The Manatee County Commission voted unanimously Thursday evening to move forward with the tentative millage and budget adoptions during a budget public hearing. The second hearing, which is when county commissioners are expected to adopt the budget, will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 15.
“As you know, we deal with the net budget. We take out all the transfers, the internal service funds and the reserves and so that net budget that we’re talking about will be $578,824,884 dollars,” Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker told the commission. “We’re here to listen to the public about their comments relative to that budget.”
Among those who shared public comments Thursday were Turning Points’ executive director Adell Erozer, retired Manatee County dentist James Little and Manatee County resident Linda Neely.
The county millage rate is 7.0435, which includes the .6109 mill for the unincorporated municipal services tax. According to a presentation by Manatee County Budget Division Manager Debbie Underwood, the countywide millage rates have remained the same level since 2008.
County commissioners last month approved funding 13 other new positions in the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office — four corrections deputies, six dispatchers, a public records clerk and two forensic analysts. This was in addition to the eight new deputies already funded in the county’s tentative net budget. The commission also approved seven additional positions for the county’s public safety department.
But by spending $1.2 million more for public safety, which will be funded from reserves, it exacerbates the potential budget deficit coming in 2018, Hunzeker warned at that meeting.
“I think the budget was over 1,000 pages, and we went through every page. Thank you for all the people that did come because there were quite a few residents that actually came to almost all of them,” County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said Thursday. “But for the 1.6 (million) that we flagged — we flagged other things but we ended up sticking to these — I think it’s important that people know that we added two code enforcement employees. For 760 square miles, I think we had 10 code enforcement officers ... the little city of Holmes Beach has two. Veterans Services, we added one position, dispatchers for public safety, we added seven.”
Claire Aronson, county reporter, contributed to this report.