Bradenton: Should Manatee County voters approve the half-cent sales tax proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot, the city of Bradenton’s share of the revenue could be between $3.5 million and $4 million a year. Transportation improvements top the city’s list of proposed projects. Officials are recommending 42 percent of the revenue be spent on the city’s paving program, street lighting enhancements and major road improvements.
Since emerging from the Great Recession, the city has been able to increase its paving program from $400,000 to almost $1 million year in the past two budget cycles, but city officials acknowledge the program has fallen behind.
“This is how we can move the paving program forward faster,” City Administrator Carl Callahan said during a city council meeting Wednesday. The rest of the funding is “citizen-driven requests,” Callahan said, and they include enhancing downtown street lighting and in the Ninth Street West entertainment district; creating a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly connectivity from downtown to the Village of the Arts; and eventual expansion of the Riverwalk.
Twenty-seven percent of the revenues would be dedicated toward the police and fire departments. High on the priority list is the relocation of Fire Station 2, 1401 Seventh Ave. E, and renovations for Fire Station 3, which Vice Mayor Gene Gallo said “is so old, it wasn’t even built to hurricane standards.” Mayor Wayne Poston said the outside of Fire Station 3, 2901 59th St. W., looks nice after past renovations, “but the inside is a different story.” Improving the police and fire fleets also is a priority, as well as improvements to the police department’s property and evidence room, which has been infested with mold in the past. Callahan also is proposing the construction of a new safety facility for the use of both departments for driving and general training purposes.
Thirteen percent of the revenue would go to parks and community facilities. The city will take a complete inventory of its parks system and determine what those needs might be in both improvements and new amenities.
Callahan said the potential is there for new parks, and the city’s shuffleboard park will be targeted for upgrades, as well.
Callahan cited a renewed interest in shuffleboard among millennials. “If we are going to have one, then it needs to be a nice court and not just patched together,” Callahan said.
City officials are proposing 18 percent of revenues be dedicated to the city’s stormwater capital projects fund. The city currently collects about $1.8 million in stormwater fees, which Callahan said is not enough to fund all of the projects planned into the future.
An increase in the sales tax would eliminate the need for the city to consider a future rate hike, Callahan said.
If the sales tax measure is approved by voters, it would be in effect for 15 years. Most of the generated revenue would go to the county government. In a separate ballot question, the Manatee County School District is asking voters whether to extend its half-cent sales tax for another 15 years.