Manatee commission rejects referendum on sheriff's request for $5.5 million in raises

The Manatee County Commission today nixed the idea of a non-binding referendum that would have asked voters about $5.5 million in raises for his employees that Sheriff Brad Steube has requested.

The commissioners decided in a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Robin DiSabatino dissenting, not to consider a referendum addressing the sheriff’s request and other public safety issues on the Aug. 14 primary election ballot.

Commissioner Larry Bustle said that realistically, there wasn’t time to put together a referendum question for the ballot, as the deadline was too near.

Commissioner Donna Hayes said her constituents would dislike a new tax of any sort, adding, “They want us to live within our means, to cut somewhere else.”

“We can make that tough decision without a referendum,” said Commissioner Michael Gallen.

DiSabatino, the sole commissioner in the end who favored a referendum, said that asking people their opinions couldn’t be a bad thing.