The League of Women Voters of Manatee County Government Committee observes the Board of County Commissioners’ (BoCC) meetings for items of interest to 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 1/25/2022, observed by Graciela Greenberg.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
Opioid Litigation – Approval of an Interlocal Agreement between the County and the City of Bradenton; Adoption of Resolution No. R-22-020 designating Drug Free Manatee as the County’s Opioid Taskforce. Passed unanimously.
- County Attorney Clague noted that the passage of the above 2 steps were the last ones needed to receive the opioid settlement that county agreed to participate in this December. He also commented that, the settlement approved today represents years of effort by the state and the counties in class action lawsuits against opioid businesses. The opioid crisis hit this county very hard. This is not cause for celebration but to help the county deal with the problem the opioid companies created.
- It is unknown how much the county will receive. It could be as high as $2 million per year. (It was not clear for how long.) The money must be used to mitigate the impact of the opioid epidemic.
- Whitmore stated the Taskforce needs to make sure the money gets distributed to the right places so that there are enough beds in rehab facilities and needs are addressed.
- Citizen comment: The port’s tens of thousands of feet of roof throughout the port area could be used for renewable energy.
- The Port Authority Director announced a new client, Chiquita Bananas. He noted the banana distributed locally would no longer need to be trucked to our area from Port Everglades, saving energy and reducing truck traffic on I75.
Advisory Board Appointments to the Library Board of Trustees
- Unincorporated Manatee County Representative – James Russell
- At-Large Representative – Jenny Daugherty
ELMAC (Environmental Land Management and Acquisition Committee)
- In November of 2020 Manatee County voters approved a referendum to “finance the acquisition, improvement, and management of land to protect drinking water sources and water quality, preserve fish and wildlife habitat, prevent stormwater runoff pollution, and provide parks”
- ELMAC was designated by the BoCC to advise them on how the revenue approved by the taxpayers for preservation lands would be spent.
- EMLAC was expanded (approved unanimously) from a 15-member committee to 17 members. Originally there were four at-large resident appointments, one member resident of Long Boat Key, one member resident of Anna Maria Island, and nine citizen appointments with specific expertise. Members were nominated by BoCC members and approved by a majority vote. The change allows each of the seven county commissioners to appoint one citizen member to ELMAC from their district; the at-large members can appoint a citizen from anywhere in the county. These appointees will not require a majority vote for approval.
- Servia expressed concern that the change was political and not the intended purpose, to provide balanced geographic representation in the members of the committee but that she would vote for it since it was the will of the Board.
- The process for the last at-large and nine expert positions will remain unchanged; Board members will make open nominations and are subject to approval via majority vote.
- James Satcher will be the Board’s liaison to the ELMAC, as agreed late in 2021, in a non-voting position.
- Chief Financial Officer Jan Brewer shared that American Rescue Plan funds will be used to finance the (unbudgeted) replacement of the Sheriff’s department radios ($10mil).
- Kruse gave an update on the DeSoto mall property stating that all of the people looking at the land are respectable.
- During discussion on affordable housing, commissioners expressed concern with the rising cost of rents and housing prices. It was noted that the urban core is a preferable location for affordable housing as transportation is available.
- Bellamy reported that he is meeting with County Administrator Hopes to discuss diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training for the BoCC.
- Conduct during the meeting was respectful and efficient.
- During the Port Authority discussion background conversation was audible and distracting.
- The League supports and encourages DEI training for the BoCC.
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