The League of Women Voters of Manatee County Government Committee observes the Board of County Commissioners’ 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 Budget Work Session on 06/16/2021, observed by Ginger McCallum and Karen Curlin.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
Materials/details from the budget session may be found at:
- Home Page for Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
- Overview CIP Presentation
- Recommended Capital Improvement Plan 22-26
- Fund Summary
Budget overview discussion and points made during the day:
- This is the second budget workshop and focused on Capital Improvement Projects.
- County Administrator Hopes, Finance Director Brewer, administration personnel and the various departments have put in many hours to develop a budget that has projects to be funded and moved forward.
- The proposed budget will reduce the size of the accumulated reserve and stabilization funds, using the monies “now” to improve the county. Hopes assured the Commissioners that the county will maintain the required reserve of 20%, eliminate the specific “disaster” fund, have enough to accelerate projects and still have adequate protections in place.
- Remaining steps in the process include certification of the tax rolls on July 1, submitting an overall proposed budget on July 15 and reconciliation of the budget with the (Board of County Commissioners) BoCC on July 29.
Commissioners often focused concerns as to whether funding sources, costs, interest rates and expenses are being monitored going forward, particularly if various income sources aren’t as high as expected. Finance Director Brewer responded that they watch economic indicators, look at the local area and talk to project managers about actual costs monthly. Status will be covered with the BoCC at least quarterly.
Discussion focused on completing high priority projects and cutting out less important projects.
East County Library costs have increased from $7 million to about $20 million. County Administrator Hopes clarified that costs that have risen due to the long planning time, and also due to the library now being part of the broader Premiere Sports Park project. They are looking at how they can maximize the opportunity for the library to have a broader use, such as a hurricane shelter, which increases costs.
The Convention Center renovation and expansion project was held up due to the hotel component not being funded. Now that this has occurred, the convention center project will move forward.
There was a long discussion about the renovating old and proposed new animal shelters and whether there is a need for both. Hopes stated that in order to handle the current and future expected animal population, both are necessary. Satcher, Kruse and Van Ostenbridge doubted the requirement for $6 million for animal shelters. Servia asked for more facts.
Hopes encouraged transparency with taxpayers regarding how storm water is paid for – via wastewater and solid waste removal fees.
Commissioners wanted to sure that “project rework” was minimized, i.e., repairing a road then having to dig it up to replace the sewers.
Satcher commented that he did not see budget for Erie Rd E/W in Parrish in the proposed budget, and that improvements are needed with 4 schools going up and State College of Florida already there. Staff will create a plan and costs estimates for the project.
Servia asked about Tallevast Rd road and sewer improvements. Tallevast is in the plan for American Relief Plan/COVID (ARP) funds. ARP funds can NOT be used for any project already in a budget. Commissioners requested a list of projects on the ARP list.
Satcher asked if the Children’s Services Tax Fund would be an appropriate fit for “help I mentioned for pregnant women at a previous meeting.” Whitmore and Bellamy stated that the funding for this item was outcome based.
- Commissioners were polite and collegial with each other.
- Commissioners thanked Jan Brewer and her team for all the work on the proposed budget.