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Administrator: Layoffs guaranteed in next Manatee County budget

MANATEE -- Layoffs are guaranteed in the next Manatee County government budget as officials seek to eliminate between $12 million and $14 million from a spending plan that is already cut to the bone, Administrator Ed Hunzeker said today.

Hunzeker told county commissioners the cuts will be so severe that he plans to start the budget process in March, two months earlier than years past.

The county has cut $122 million and 183 positions from its budget in the past four years as property tax revenue has dwindled. The next two-year budget will be approved in September.

“It will be a challenge,” Hunzeker said. “To borrow a phrase that’s overused, we’ve gotten the low-hanging fruit. If we’re going back in after another 12 to 14 million dollars, it’s going to get painful.”

There will be further layoffs because the county won’t be able to come up with the necessary budget cuts through other means, Hunzeker said. There are no capital improvement projects paid for by general fund money in the current budget.

“We’re a service industry,” Hunzeker said. “We have people that provide service. We can’t cut manufacturing; we can’t cut the inventory; we can’t cut the sales. It’s a people business.”

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