Local

Sales tax storm brewing between mainland mayors and island mayors

Bradenton Beach Mayor William Shearon listens to public comment during a special meeting of the Bradenton Beach city commission. File Photo-GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald
Bradenton Beach Mayor William Shearon listens to public comment during a special meeting of the Bradenton Beach city commission. File Photo-GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald gjefferies@bradenton.com

A few years ago, Carmel Monti, former Holmes Beach mayor, and other island officials denigrated the historical reference to “day trippers” in an effort to keep mainlanders from coming to the island without some associated cost.

The backlash caused a riff between islanders and mainlanders and now another one may be forming over a proposed half-cent sales tax and a fair distribution of wealth.

The details of the proposed half-cent sales tax are still being worked out between the Manatee County School District, which wants a 15-year-renewal of their tax and the Manatee County Board of Commissioners, which wants to add a half-cent sales tax of their own. But island officials are expected to request at Tuesday’s county commission meeting that they want more money out of the proposed tax.

Four mayors representing the cities of Anna Maria Island and Longboat key want the county to know that they deserve more than what Florida statutes would allow, which is a distribution system based on the population of the municipality.

The island mayors are expected to ask the county to take 10 percent off the top of the sales tax and distribute it in the same way the Manatee County Tourist Development Council distributes funds, which would give the island cities much more funding than the statutory system while reducing Bradenton and Palmetto’s share considerably.

According to Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant, the total funds lost would be about $85,000 alone for Palmetto.

“Both (Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston) and I have said that this is not acceptable and we would not support it,” said Bryant. “The island mayors kind of negate their posture of being concerned about their infrastructure when it’s the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto’s infrastructure that gets used to get to the island.”

A letter from Commissioner Robin DiSabatino to Bryant expresses support for the island mayors’ request. Bryant said DiSabatino is not expected to attend Tuesday’s meeting, but noted she could be made available by phone.

“I hope she chooses to reconsider her opinion and her vote as I hope all of them will do,” said Bryant.

DiSabatino made a reference to what is fair with her letter to Bryant, but Palmetto Commissioner Tamara Cornwell questioned that wisdom.

“Commissioner DiSabatino said it’s the fair thing to do,” said Cornwell. “How is zero fair? Fair is equitable and not a loss to others.”

  Comments