MANATEE -- Manatee County has six revenue alternatives to help address county government funding issues.
"What do we want the place to look like 30 years from now?" Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker asked Thursday. "This isn't all about adding. This is distributing the cost to the right place. Something goes up. Something else can go down. It's about a balance and who should pay."
The Manatee County Citizens Financial Structure Advisory Board, which is tasked with finding ways to address the funding issues, learned more about revenue alternatives including franchise fees, general obligation bonds, infrastructure sales taxes, local business taxes, municipal service benefit units and taxing units and stormwater fees.
The revenues would each generate different amounts of funds, which can be used toward different items depending on the specific revenue alternative.
For example, a franchise fee, which is charged as public service tax in all cities in the county, could be used to fund operational and capital expenses. Based on 2013 numbers, a franchise fee levied at 5.9 percent would generate approximately $15.8 million.
An infrastructure sales tax, approximately one-third of which would come from non-residents and visitors, could generate approximately $56.2 million at 1 cent levied.
"It depends on what problems you think we have and what ones you want to solve," Hunzeker said of how much money Manatee County government would need to fix
the funding issues.
Revenue alternatives can be enacted differently. Some require a referendum while others require implementation by the Manatee County Commission.
Manatee County has a very good credit rating, which would help in paying back a bond, said David Zaccagnino, who is Commissioner Carol Whitmore's appointee to the board.
"This option could cost us less money and could give us a lot of bang for our buck just because what is happening in the market today," he said of the GO Bond.
If the county had a sales tax to pay for capital expenses, it could fund operating needs as the community grows, Hunzeker said.
"We currently hurt ourselves because whenever we have an emergency or critical need on the capital side we go to the operating side to use for capital," he said.
Ron Allen, who is Commissioner Betsy Benac's appointee to the board, said Thursday's meeting was the most informative so far.
"I think you really drilled down to where our mindsets are headed," he said.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.