LWV County Commission Budget Session Notes: 6/14/2022
Manatee County League of Women Voters•
The Manatee County League of Women Voters’ Government Committee observes meetings of the Manatee County Commission for League Matters and notes compliance, or lack of compliance, with good governance procedures and the Sunshine Law . Here are the highlights of the Manatee County Board of Commissioners budget business session on 6/14/2022, observed by Jennifer Hamey.
Budget overview – Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
- $1.2 billion for the CIP plan and $343 million in total projects for FY23.
- 2.2 billion in total for projects between FY23 and FY27, including future and existing projects.
CIP Funding Sources
- Government side: The primary source of funding is debt proceeds (i.e. gas, general revenue, infrastructure sales tax, impact fees). Impact fees are fees paid on new housing to cover the costs of new infrastructure such as roads, additional schools, libraries, water and sewer, security vehicles, etc. The US stimulus package has funded some (new) projects.
- On the business side: financed by the capital costs of utilities and facilities.
- Transport: The growth spurt and therefore the impact costs are not sustainable, so there are no projections over a cycle of more than 5 years. As the market evolves, the county may need to shift the source of impact fee funding to something else.
- Parks and Recreation: Spending on new structures and parks is highly dependent on impact fees.
- Enforcement: Costs will exceed revenues, so the county will have to draw on reserves. Some projects were not included because there is no funding.
- Some of the projects on the government side for fiscal years 23-27 include a convention center addition, parks, an EMS station, law enforcement buildings, road improvements and sidewalks. There are funds in reserve to take inflation into account.
Business projects: Funded by capital costs of utilities and facilities. Major projects include water replacement projects, purchase of new landfills, reclamation and filtration, stormwater upgrades and rehabilitations.
Infrastructure Sales Tax (IST)): There are 207 projects in this list of which 204 are recommended and 90 are active in the CIP plan. Of 204, 114 are at the CIP.
Debt structure – The current balance, to date, is $283 million; 70% in public services and 29% in public administration.
Commissioners’ Philosophical Differences – Spending vs. Saving –
The county is required by law to maintain a reserve of 20% (of the budget). Additional amounts held in reserve for emergencies are called a stabilization reserve. The stabilization reserve contained $500 million, which has now been reduced to $19.1 million.
- Whitmore pointed out that a tax cut was made last year and that the previous larger stabilization fund got us through the recession and that this new stabilization got us to where we are today. today.
- Satcher questioned what level of reserves were being funded, noting that we need to plan ahead and be careful with reserves, but not keep so much in reserve.
- McLean responded that they were not rebuilding previous reserve levels, but maintaining the legally required 20% of current funding, noting that the board decides whether to build more.
- Servia commented, “A good tropical storm and stormwater carry will deplete that 19.1 million” and later that growth previously paid for itself through impact fees that were used to pay for the infrastructure expenses of the county due to growth. It’s a change of philosophy for this painting.
County Parking Garage Replacement: Servia questioned the cost ($33.3 million) and whether there were other options than demolishing and replacing. Director of property management Bishop replied that they had looked at safety factors and how much time was left before something went wrong. The garage has interior damage due to water damage.
- Related documents have not been posted with the agenda to inform the public and other interested parties. Budget documents are posted on the county’s website, but links should be related to the agenda.
- Satcher complained about the number of projects in D3, saying it wasn’t fair and a discussion ensued about capital projects and districts. It has nothing to do with capital planning, which should be based on the general needs of the county.
- Sun law and communications – Satcher regularly points out at meetings the difficulties of having to discuss county items publicly because he would prefer to do so behind closed doors, which, of course, is a violation of Sunshine laws. He again underscored the difficulty of this public discussion requirement when he referred to Servia’s concern that she was not informed of negotiations to purchase property in Parrish. The fact that the ownership negotiations were already made public in March by Satcher and Hopes at a meeting of the Parrish Civic Association makes it clear that more, not less, openness and communication with everyone is needed.
- The continued violation of the covenant of civility among commissioners and the president’s unwillingness to effectively manage the division.A request to the chairman at the start of the meeting to control the meeting was rebuffed. Later in the meeting, VanOstenbridge joins in on the inappropriate comments. It is the president’s responsibility to maintain control. This president demonstrated earlier in the year that he could do this effectively, and we ask him to restore decorum in meetings. All commissioners need answers to their questions or concerns. The current dysfunction creates an inefficient environment for full information and productive work and harms the county’s needs.
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