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Manatee County Announces Stormwater Informational Meetings, Website

From Kevin Wright, a Discussion of the Proposed Fee

Manatee County Announces Storm Water Informational Meetings, Website
Taxed Enough Already? Apparently not.

In December Manatee County Commissioners will vote on a storm water fee (AKA wastewater TAX) on residents and what level of tax to set. On its face the tax sounds small and for the "public good" but government never kills us by lopping off our heads—not in this republic. It instead bleeds us to death with a thousand tiny nicks, none of which hurt, until it is too late.
The county's water management system was created in 1991 with no foresight as to the need to maintain it. Now, three decades later, when after each major rain residents cried, "Do something, Government!” taxpayers are asked to address the problem with our money.

On Sept. 24 the commissioners authorized a public outreach campaign to educate Manatee County residents about the program and the proposed fee.

Those that attended the first sessions know that these meetings are designed as sales pitches in favor of the tax by commissioners and county workers who have already made up their mind to vote yes on this tax. Remember this: The commissioners represent us. Do not allow this to pass without either a fight or informed input by we the people.

Is this new tax a good thing? We do not know, nor do those voting on it. What do we not know? #1: we do not know the return on investment. A year has been spent on determining the cost to double the maintenance frequency on our storm water management system, but no one knows the actual impact it will have on the problem. This proposed fee will not solve it, but don't hold your breath waiting on our county government to admit that.

The biggest unanswered return on investment and actual cost is if the commissioners vote for the higher cost option which includes capital projects the nature of which the county was woefully unable to answer to this past week.

Five county municipalities, largely in southwest Manatee, will be exempt because those residents already pay city fees to manage storm water. How much do they pay and how much more or less is it than those who will pay the fee? We do not know. Will those who pay HOA fees to have their residential stormwater managed be exempt? NO! The argument is that those fees only manage the problem within their residential area. Really? So how much does any one HOA area contribute to the county problem not resolved by the HOA? We do not know. Do all the fees paid by the cities exempted eliminate all burden on the county maintenance even on the city borders? We do not know. If taxed, wouldn't you prefer it were fair?

How did the county pay to maintain our system prior to now? They used the county reserve funds. Those funds are now as ample as they have ever been—a surplus. The county is so bent on maintaining a five star rating on its 20% industry standard reserve fund that it will not spend a penny of it unlike you and I who must make frequent decisions to use rainy day savings for unplanned financial shortfalls. Would you be willing to tap the reserve if it really is essential in 2020 at least until the county has finished its homework which we are assigning it at these town halls? I would. Will they? Don't hold your breath—it is not government's money; it is ours.

Manatee County residents and business owners are invited to attend one of several informational meetings in October and November to get an overview of a proposed storm water fee to address local flooding and water quality issues.

Seven meetings are scheduled, one for each of the county's seven commissioners.
Here’s the meeting schedule:
Chairman Steve Jonsson: [email protected] His meeting will be held Friday, Nov. 8 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at Manatee Utilities building, 4410 66th St. W., Bradenton
Commissioner Vanessa Baugh: [email protected] Her meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov. 12 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at Lakewood Ranch Townhall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Lakewood Ranch
Commissioner Betsy Benac: [email protected] Her meeting will be Wednesday, Nov. 13 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at Braden River Library, 4915 53rd Ave E., Bradenton
Commissioner Reggie Bellamy: [email protected] His meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 25 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto

Meetings already held:
Commissioner Misty Servia: [email protected]
Commissioner Carol Whitmore: [email protected]
Commissioner Priscilla Trace: [email protected]

I recommend you call the commissioners at (941) 745-3700) or email them and tell them to vote no on this proposed tax. For more information on the issue and to see my questions and discussion of it, go to


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