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 Regular Meeting on 06/08/2021, observed by Anne McFarlane and Ruth Harenchar.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
- Citizen comment objecting to red light cameras. Commissioner comments included:. Whitmore and Bellamy voiced support for public safety; Van Ostenbridge and Satcher were against red light cameras.
- Moccasin Wallow Rd Improvements. Pat Neal (developer) citizen comment – Moccasin Wallow Rd widening project should be shovel-ready. Right of way is the biggest obstacle to overcome.
- Commissioners expressed general agreement that future projects should be shovel ready as quickly as possible.
- Clague – They are working to get documents for eminent domain & then they can proceed.
- Three items voted on for use of tourist bed tax dollars:1. Finger docks and other improvements to the Bradenton Beach pier including a possible dock for a water taxi (up to $850k). Approved unanimously.
2. Anna Maria pier – use the space of the former restaurant for a Mote Marine education center ($500K, Mote will match). Approved unanimously.
3. Holmes Beach – Seawall with sidewalk on top ($282K) and Grassy Point Park improvements ($41K).
- Commission comments – Van Ostenbridge – the county paid for beach, then parking was cut off; this has consequences. Whitmore – A seawall isn’t tourist related. Bellamy and Servia – commission should not tie one issue with another unrelated issue.
- Motion to deny the seawall – passed 5 to 2. Servia and Bellamy voted No.
- Motion to approve Grassy Point Park – passed 5 to 2. Baugh and Satcher voted No.
- Whitmore motioned for the county administrator to work with Holmes Beach to use tax dollars towards a bike path (which was going to be funded with the money saved on the seawall project) and propose a project that meets the requirement of the tourist tax statute. It passed unanimously.
- The County Commission unanimously approved the School Board’s request to place the renewal of the 1 mill tax to support teacher compensation and educational needs on a Nov. 2, 2021 special election ballot. The School Board agreed to avoid special elections in the future by holding the next 1-mill renewal during the presidential election in 2024. (Each special election costs $400k.)
- Transferring 2 properties to Community Solutions 360 (CS 360) for affordable housing. Many commissioners expressed serious concerns about the process since the last project took >2 years from application by CS360 to today and it will still be months before construction begins and that that private concerns could not apply (for Federal and State funding, a non-profit is required). Concern was expressed that names of those taking the home ownership training were not available. Claque stated that the privacy of those taking the classes is required by HUD and must be done by a nonprofit but that property transfer can go to a for profit entity. Administration stated processes are changing. Property transfer approved 4 to 3 with Satcher, Baugh and Kruse voting No.
- Confirmation of Robert J Reinshuttle MPA as Deputy County Administrator. Click here for resume. Approved 5 to 2. Bellamy and Whitmore voted No.
- Satcher proposed to be the first county in Florida to:
- Ban abortions if there is a fetal heartbeat.
- Fund a grant program for women go through the crisis pregnancy program and give birth.
- Four commissioners voted to approve the use county resources, such as the county attorney, to research and to contact necessary stakeholders with his proposal
- Cooperation between School Board and Commissioners to avoid special elections and save $400k per election is good governance behavior.
- Servia and Bellamy called out unproductive negative Commissioner comments on programs and other entities in the meeting. i.e., CS 360 and Holmes Beach issues.
- Since Commissioners, by law, must confirm the appointment of the Deputy County Administrator, all Commissioners should have the opportunity to interview the candidate, even if they choose not to do so. Bellamy said he never was even offered an opportunity to talk with the candidate. Some other commissioners also did not meet with the candidate but were not bothered saying it was the decision of Hopes.
- Inappropriate political comments continue, for example, Van Ostenbridge’s comment that Mayor Chappie was a “good Conservative Republican mayor”.