The League of Women Voters of Manatee County Government Committee observes the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) meetings for items of interest to citizens and the League and notes adherence, or lack of adherence, to good governance procedures and the Sunshine Law. The following are the major points from the Board of Manatee County Commissioners Regular Meeting on 5/23/2023 observed by Karen Curlin and Coleen Friedman.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
Link to Agenda and Meeting Video
Invocation delivered by Ray Bellamy, a three-sport star athlete for Lincoln Memorial High School in Palmetto who enrolled at the University of Miami, becoming the Hurricane’s first Black football player.
- Acceptance of a $784,142 donation from the Bradenton Kiwanis Club for a destination all-inclusive ADA playground to be installed at Tom Bennett Park. This is in celebration of Bradenton Kiwanis’ 100 years as a club. The playground will replace the existing aged playground equipment with equipment and structures suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities, giving virtually all children the opportunity to play.
- Proclamation Designating May 2023 Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
- Proclamation designating June 2, 2023 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day
- Proclamation designating May 29, 2023 as Memorial Day
Citizen Comments on Future Agenda Items
Father Matthew Grunfeld, Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, Anna Maria Island spoke about the need for at least 11,000 affordable housing units in Manatee County. This year STREAM again asked the county to commit to building 1000 units. He noted that Kruse was the only commissioner to attend STREAM’s recent event on affordable housing and social justice. He brought 2000 petitions in support of additional affordable housing in Manatee County. Eight other citizens spoke in support of more affordable housing.
Commissioner Kruse thanked the citizens and said the County far exceeded the 500 units that were committed to last year, and also reduced the income level to qualify from 120% to 80% of median income. He went on to say that the County will use incentives to encourage more support from developers.
Citizen Comments on Consent Agenda
Glen Gibellina asked for affordable housing workforce housing on new school properties being built at Taylor Ranch. Kruse responded that the BoCC cannot demand that private property owners give additional acreage at a school for workforce housing.
Item #43 – Confirmation of Jodie Fiske as Director of Public Safety approved 7-0.
Item #44 – Children’s Advisory Board – approved one citizen representative 7-0.
Item #46 – Approval of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Changes
1. Approve Administrative Changes/Updated Project List, approved 7-0.
2. Create a New Project in the ARP List called “General Fund Government Services Payroll FY24”, approved 7-0.
3. Approve either Option A or Option B for Uncommitted Remaining Funds of ARP to utilize the “General Fund Government Services-Payroll FY24”. Option B, which takes $51m in uncommitted funds PLUS $1.5m from total amount previously earmarked for the Veterans Homeless Project and reallocates it to General Fund Government Services Payroll FY24 (#2), approved 7-0.
Item #50 – Authorization to Proceed with National Search for County Administrator, approved 7-0.
Item #42 – Adoption of Ordinance 23-59, amending Section 2-29-21 of the Code of Laws of Manatee County, Florida, providing for a Tourist Development Plan pursuant to Section 125-0104(3)(I), Florida Statutes
Elliott Falcione, Executive Director Convention and Visitors Bureau, explained that the current ordinance was adopted on November 21, 2011 and has been amended many times. Based on the structure of the existing ordinance, the document must be amended each time the BoCC approves a project that utilizes Tourism Tax proceeds. The new ordinance allows for additional projects that are tourism tax eligible without amending the ordinance.
He described the items on the list of funded projects as “buckets” of priorities for which tourism tax revenue can be spent. The county expects $31,000,000 from 2022-24. The list includes the convention center; public beaches; sports stadiums and venues; art, cultural, and historical facilities as well as reserves.
Motion to approve the revised ordinance approved 6-0; Satcher absent.
Link to Good Governance Guidelines
The commissioners seemed to be rushing through the agenda. For example, the presentation on changes to American Recovery Plan (ARP) funding was deemed “not needed” although the public would have benefited from the information given the significant ARP funds reallocated to FY24 Payroll rather than to the community projects such as infrastructure as originally discussed/committed.
The County Commissioners did not follow their usual proclamation process for the Gun Violence Awareness Day proclamation. Instead of working with the 18 community organizations that requested a proclamation to make June 2, 2023, Wear Orange/Gun Violence Awareness Day, commissioners instead created their own proclamation celebrating the 2nd Amendment, people who handle their guns safely, and highlighting that Manatee is a gun sanctuary county, rather than focusing on honoring the victims and survivors of gun violence.