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Sheriff Steube: Tax rate hike needed to keep Manatee safe

BRADENTON — Telling the Manatee County Commission his budget was pared to the bone, Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube asked the board to consider raising the property tax rate to maintain public safety.

“I’ve heard you can’t (raise taxes) because it’s an election year,” Steube said. “But when people ask me what they can do to prevent cuts in the sheriff’s office, I tell them to lobby the county commission.”

He said there has been a 4 percent increase in the crime rate since Jan. 1, mostly due to vehicle and home burglaries.

“You talk about bringing businesses to the county,’ the sheriff told commissioners, “but they will look long and hard if we don’t bring crime down.”

Commissioner Joe McClash suggested the commission consider raising the property tax rate by 10 cents for every $1,000 in assessed property value and dedicate the revenue for the sheriff’s office.

McClash said that would raise about $2 million.

McClash said the county portion of the property tax bill would still be less than last year’s for most property owners.

About $1 million of that money would be used for increased employee pension contributions the Florida Legislature has required all local governments to pay.

The rest would go toward operational costs the sheriff has been delaying for the last several years because of reduced revenues.