Officials realize that a new initiative to begin charging residents in unincorporated Manatee County a stormwater fee will require transparency with the community.
In the coming weeks, members of the Board of County Commissioners and county staff will host several informational sessions to explain the need for the change and hear feedback directly from affected citizens.
The board has heard the argument for the new fee over the course of the year. The funding is sought by Manatee’s Public Works Department, which says it can reduce flooding issues throughout the county and improve water quality with a dedicated funding source.
Director Chad Butzow recently asked commissioners to approve the cost of the new stormwater fee. He gave officials the option of two proposed annual rates — either $58 or $88, for most single-family homes.
Both rates would improve upon the level of stormwater maintenance that exists today, but the second option funds major capital improvements for stormwater infrastructure in flood-prone areas, according to county staff. However, with either rate, the final cost for a property owner will scale up depending on the amount of impervious surface area on their land.
Commercial businesses will be charged, as well. The fee will be collected annually, along with property taxes. A number of Manatee County municipalities already charge a stormwater fee.
According to Butzow, funds from the stormwater fee would allow county staff to maintain ditches, canals and other drainage systems twice as often. The result should lessen flooding issues in some areas. It could also reduce the amount of harmful nutrients that make red tide and similar algae issues worse.
Each of the county’s seven commissioners will lead a meeting in their district. County staff will also attend the meeting to make their case for receiving extra funding from the community. Board members say they want to hear from residents before voting to approve either rate at a Dec. 10 public meeting.
The meeting schedule is as follows:
- Commissioner Misty Servia will lead a meeting Friday, Oct. 25 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the South Manatee Branch Library, 6801 26th St. W., Bradenton.
- Commissioner Carol Whitmore will lead a meeting Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Palmetto Library, 923 Sixth St. W., Palmetto.
- Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace will lead a meeting Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Rocky Bluff Library, 6750 U.S. 301 N., Ellenton.
- Commissioner Steve Jonsson will lead a meeting Friday, Nov. 8 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Manatee County Utilities building, 4410 66th St. W., Bradenton.
- Commissioner Vanessa Baugh will lead a meeting Tuesday, Nov. 12 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Lakewood Ranch.
- Commissioner Betsy Benac will lead a meeting Wednesday, Nov. 13 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Braden River Library, 4915 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton.
- Commissioner Reggie Bellamy will lead a meeting Monday, Nov. 25 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto.
For more information and to calculate what the stormwater fee would be for your home or business, visit MyManatee.org/stormwater.