Manatee County Cuts Tax Rate With 2023 Budget Approval

Manatee County finalized its tax rate Tuesday night when county commissioners unanimously approved a gross budget of $2.4 for the upcoming fiscal year.

Commissioners approved a tax rate of 6.2326, a reduction of 1.5 mills from last year, despite a new environmental property tax approved by voters in November 2020 and levied this year. Although the tax rate has decreased, homeowners still expect more overall taxes due to rising real estate values.

The board also approved a $1.2 billion capital improvement plan that invests $320 million in projects this year and allocates a total of $2.3 billion in total by fiscal year 2027. .

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It represents the largest five-year PIC in county history, with $435 million earmarked for transportation, $132 million for parks and $48 million for public safety.

County officials secured $232 million in bonds this week to accelerate 19 projects. They will be repaid at an interest rate of 4.09% over the next 30 years.

Highlights this year include $6 million in funding to expand the Bishop Animal Sanctuary, $18.3 million to update the size of the Premier Sports Complex pool to 50 meters and build the Lakewood Ranch Library. of $17.7 million.

The CIP also includes major transportation projects on Fort Hamer Road, including an expansion of the bridge over the Manatee River. The project will receive approximately $95 million from multiple sources, with Manatee County’s contribution to be decided at a later date.

The county is also moving forward with its “Big 6” transportation projects which include improvements on West 59th Street, West 75th Street, East 63rd Avenue, Lena Road, Lorraine Road and Upper Manatee River Road.

Funded, unfunded

The budget included funding for 55 new county employee positions, including 17 staff for the new Lakewood Ranch library and 16 utility technician jobs.

The county also fully funded the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office budget request for a total of $172 million.

The county did not fund this year’s request by Manatee County Clerk and Comptroller Angelina Colonneso, who criticized County Administrator Scott Hopes in a scathing letter sent to county commissioners in May.

She received funding for an accountant and two positions, but was denied a request for two additional Inspector General positions. Colesso established the Office of Inspector General in 2019. The office’s findings played a significant role in an investigation that found patronage in the County Buildings and Services Department made public in March.

The county also failed to fund a request from the Holmes Beach Police Department for more funding to patrol the Manatee County public beach and Kingfish boat launch.

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The department played a role in decisions to lower the speed limit on Gulf Drive to 25 mph and in reducing roadside beach parking available for city visitors. The decisions led to heated and public disputes between city and county authorities.

During public comments, Lt. Brian Hall said both areas have seen an increase in activity and the department has requested additional funding to meet demand. The county maintained the $46,000 funding that was previously in place.

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