MANATEE -- The Manatee County Commission approved a $564 million net budget for 2015-16 on Tuesday night.
During the second and final required public hearing, the commission adopted the budget by a 5-2 vote, with commissioners Robin DiSabatino and Vanessa Baugh dissenting. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
The commission also voted to keep the millage rate at 7.0435, which includes .6109 mills for the unincorporated municipal services tax. Only DiSabatino voted against the millage motion.
With the county facing a potential deficit in 2018 when it may exhaust the general portion of the budget stabilization reserve fund, Commissioner Vanessa Baugh asked her fellow commissioners to work together to find a solution to the problem.
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"We have to fix to this problem," she said. "I feel like we have wasted another year without a solution to this problem and we are just digging ourselves in a bigger hole."
The budget was adopted after DiSabatino's motion to fund the additional deputies the Manatee County Sheriff's Office requested failed 5-2 with Baugh joining DiSabatino as the only supporters of the $1 million reallocation.
DiSabatino read newspaper headlines to illustrate recent crime in the county.
"Crime knows no specific area," she said. "It's all over the county. We need more law enforcement officers."
Commission Chairwoman Betsy Benac said public safety needs must be addressed, but the reality is they "are not going to have enough money to fund all the programs we are currently funding."
Commissioner Larry Bustle, who participated in the meeting via phone, said the crimes still might have happened even with more deputies.
After the motion failed, DiSabatino said: "I didn't lose. The people of Manatee County are losing because some people up here are really stubborn."
During the public hearing, about 10 members of the public spoke, most on funding indigent health care.
Manatee County resident Lori Dalton said without the indigent health care program, her husband wouldn't be alive.
"We are blessed to have this program in place when we needed it," she said. "Our story is just one of many.
When someone needs that medical help, they need that help."
Richard Conard said the response time for Emergency Medical Services is "way out of line" in East Manatee, particularly Myakka City.
"That's a life-or-death issue," Conard said. "We are starting to erode the level of excellence in EMS that we've had."
Baugh, who represents East Manatee, said she feels the same.
"It is a definite need in Myakka," she said. "The response time is slower than a lot of other areas in the county."
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.