As the Manatee County Commission considers whether to put a sales tax referendum on the November ballot, the county Friday released a $345 million list of projects that would be funded with the half-cent infrastructure sales tax.
During Tuesday’s commission meeting, the commission will discuss the list of projects that would be funded with the proposed 15-year half-cent infrastructure sales tax. Approximately 70 percent, or almost $244 million, of the money that would be generated over 15 years would go to fund transportation projects, including sidewalks, intersection improvements and major road improvements.
The second largest dollar amount — more than $52.4 million — is proposed to fund public safety and law enforcement projects, including law enforcement facilities and equipment, criminal justice and public safety facility improvements, 911 and public safety technology upgrades and Animal Services and sheltering.
Parks and community amenities round out the project list, with more than $48.6 million in spending proposed. Projects that would be funded in this category include district parks and aquatic facilities, athletic fields, libraries, environmental preserves, boat ramps and playgrounds.
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“I want to make sure what we commit to building, we actually build,” County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said.
A Citizens Financial Structure Advisory Board has recommended to the commission that a half-cent infrastructure sales tax is the best way to make the budget sustainable as the county faces a budget deficit in 2018. When the advisory board presented the recommendation to the commission on April 26, the commission asked for both a joint meeting with the school board, which happened last month, and a list of projects.
“I think whenever you are going to ask the people to make a decision on funding, which is basically what we are doing, we need to let them know what we are going to do with funds,” Commission Chairwoman Vanessa Baugh said. “I think it is very important that we make sure that if we are going to ask the citizens, they are going to know what the county will be doing with the extra money that will be collected. I can’t imagine the people of Manatee County wanting to approve a referendum like that without having that information.”
According to Tuesday’s meeting agenda materials, a copy of the proposed ordinance to put the infrastructure sales tax referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot will be provided Monday. Hunzeker has said that the commission will have to approve the ordinance at its June 21 commission meeting. The ordinance would have to be advertised 10 days in advance of that meeting.
The latest date to get it to the Supervisor of Elections Office to be on the ballot is Aug. 22.
When the county last asked voters to approve a sales tax referendum in 2013 for health care, which failed, there wasn’t a specific list of how the additional revenue would be spent.
“That’s why I thought it was so important that if we do want to take it to the people that they know exactly what needs are and how will enhance their quality of life,” Baugh said of the project list. “I think first of all we need to decide as a county commission whether we want to bring this forth. We need to look and decide what we want to do and the school board needs to do the same. We need to both take care of our own homes so to speak.”
Project uses for half-cent infrastructure sales tax
Percent of sales tax revenue
Total generated over 15 years
Transportation (sidewalks, intersection improvements, major road improvements)
Public safety and law enforcement (law enforcement facilities and equipment; criminal justice and public safety facility improvements; 911 and public safety technology upgrades; Animal Services and sheltering)
Parks and community amenities (district parks and aquatic facilities; athletic fields; recreation buildings and playgrounds; environmental preserves and boat ramps; ;ibraries and community amentities)