MANATEE — Ten seconds shy of 13 minutes.
That’s all it took for Manatee County commissioners to set tax rates and adopt a $484.2 million budget for fiscal 2011 after no one spoke during a public hearing Tuesday.
Officials said the lack of public interest stems from the county’s tax rate staying the same and the earlier removal of a controversial surtax for the sheriff’s department.
The countywide tax rate will remain at $6.2993 for every $1,000 in assessed property value. That means the owner of a home valued at $150,000 after exemptions are applied will pay $944.90 in base county taxes.
The only drama at Tuesday’s public hearing came when Commissioner Joe McClash again sought to eliminate the $80,017-a-year position of organizational development manager. McClash has been critical of how County Administrator Ed Hunzeker created and filled the position.
“That position, to me, is a waste of $100,000,” McClash said after the meeting, citing the salary and benefits package awarded to the new hire.
After no other commissioner seconded his request, McClash followed through on his promise to vote against the budget because it contains the position. But the other five commissioners at the meeting — Commissioner Ron Getman was absent — easily outnumbered him in enacting the spending plan that takes effect Friday.
The adopted budget is $24 million less than the current budget, the result of the county’s tax base dropping by nearly $4 billion to $24.8 billion because of the housing slump, Hunzeker said.
In all, the county’s annual budget has shrunk by $122.1 million in four years, he said.
The new budget also eliminates 53 positions, reducing the county’s workforce to 1,752 positions. And more layoffs are likely as property values continue falling, Hunzeker warned.
“We anticipate the downsizing will continue for the next couple of years,” he said.
Duane Marsteller, transportation/growth and development reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.