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The Dawn of a New Manatee County, Florida


November 25, 2015

If the Manatee County School District does not collect 100% of the recommended school impact fee there will not be enough money to build five news schools over the next ten years as recommended by the recent school impact fee study. So, where will all that money come from? The School District will have to sell bonds which will have to be paid back by all tax payers in the county. Not only that, tax payers will have to pay interest on those bonds

So, what's the problem? Well, the State of Florida passed the Impact Fee Act in 1986 to help local governments, such as Manatee County, pay for infrastructure that is ONLY required because of new development. When someone buys a NEW house (only new houses) an impact fee may be charged to cover the cost of new infrastructure that is required because of that new construction. There is a separate School Impact Fee that covers construction of new schools, purchase of land for new schools, build additions to existing schools, buy required new school buses, pay interest, and any other capital exp endure required ONLY BECAUSE OF NEW HOME CONSRUCTION.

Impact fees are investments in the community. They are part of the cost of a new house and increase the value of the house. No one would ever buy a house that wasn't connected to water lines and sewer lines or if it didn't have roads and streets leading up to the house, or police cars, fire trucks, or ambulances that service that area or schools where their kids could go and school buses that would pick them up and bring them back home. Impact fees pay for all those things and much more. A house with all those services has a lot more value than one without them. When a new home buyer pays for a new house the impact fee is included in the cost of the house and when the house is later sold the new owner pays the total cost of the house including what the original owner paid in impact fees. The original owners get that money back when they sell their house. That is why the second owner and all future owners don't have to pay a new impact fee. It is included with the price of the house as are the use of all the services paid for by the original impact fee.

When someone doesn't have to pay the impact fee when they buy a new house because it was suspended or reduced , who pays for all those things that impact fees would have paid for? The developers certainly don't pay for them and there is no proof that the developers pass the savings on to the new owners. The answer is that we, the taxpayers, have to pay for all that infrastructure that the new home buyer gets to use and actually gets to sell when the house is sold.

The idea of reducing impact fees originated with the developers.They argued that reduced impact fees would allow developers to sell homes for less but there is no proof that actually happened. The theory goes that more home sales would create more jobs which would improve the economy. That sounds good but it isn't true. Nonetheless the developers were able to convince both the Board of County Commissioners and the School Board that by cutting impact fees the economy would actually improve. THAT IS NOT TRUE!!!!

Cutting impact fees has a negative effect on the economy and here is why. When tax payers have to pay for infrastructure that should have been paid by impact fees that reduces the amount of money those tax payers have to spend in the local economy. The tax payers don't have as much money so they don't spend as much and local merchants and restaurants don't have as many customers. That results in workers being laid off which further hurts the economy.

In addition the County has to pay for the infrastructure required for new construction. That reduces the amount available for normal operations within the community such as street maintenance, repair and up dating of existing infrastructure and a multitude of other expenses. The result is that the maintenance schedules are pushed back, community employees are laid off, and things begin to deteriorate making the community less desirable. You may have noticed more pot holes in the streets, streets not cleaned as often, overgrown areas, unpainted community property and more.

County employees complained last year to County officials that they could no longer keep up with maintenance because of lack of funding and that resulted in a recommendation by the County Attorney's Office for new impact fee studies which were completed last month at a total cost $222,000 (county and school). Contrary to what some county officials are claiming, the new recommended impact fees are about the same as they were in 2007. See the "Staff Impact Fee Presentation to BoCC Very Misleading" article below for more information.

Impact fee collection MUST be resumed at 100% of the recommended rate as soon as possible. Neither the County nor the School District should subsidize the developers any longer. There was no reason to ever do that and there are no excuses for the County or the School District to not charge 100% of the recommended impact fees now. Failure to do that is contrary to the best interests of our county and our schools. For our elected officials to do otherwise is flat wrong and would be a slap in the fact to the hard working tax payers of manatee County.


November 22, 2015

The Board of County Commissioners depends on the "Staff" (employees of the county who are experts in specific areas) to provide accurate information which will help them make decisions on votes they must make (Yes, they must vote and may not abstain). It is very important that all the information the staff provides is accurate and unbiased. That was not the case on November 10th when the staff used a PowerPoint presentation to brief the Commissioners about the recent impact fee study done by TischlerBise, a very reputable firm that has done over 900 impact fee studies all over the United States.

Look at this graph from the PowerPoint presentation (click here). My first impression was, wow! this isn't fair. Manatee County will be charging more impact fees than just about any other county and almost twice as much as we are charging now. But, there is a problem. It isn't true. The information is presented in such a way that it appears that Manatee County is way out of line when it comes to charging impact fees. Clearly someone or some group is trying to influence decisions that the Board of Commissioners makes about charging impact fees.

So, what is wrong with the graph? First the State of Florida Impact Fee Act requires "that the calculation of the impact fee be based on the most recent and localized data." The only data in the graph that is both recent and local is the Manatee County data so any comparison to data in other counties is not valid because it is not local and some of it is over fifteen years old (Hillsborough County) and none of it is recent. Also, other counties have very different ways of raising revenue and differ in many other ways such as population and size. Several of the counties in the graph have over a million more people than Manatee County (350,000). Some of the other counties (Pinellas County for example) are totally built out. There is very little if any available agricultural space which means that those counties already have an almost complete system of water and sewer pipelines, roads, and other infrastructure so, of course, any new construction is going to require less infrastructure than Manatee County where new housing is springing up in former orange groves and tomato or strawberry fields which require 100% new infrastructure.That is why impact fees are going to be higher in Manatee County. More infrastructure requires higher impact fees.

The Commissioners will only be voting on Manatee County impact fees so why were school impact fees and Facility Investment Fees (FIF's) included in the graph? Because someone wanted it to look like the fees recommended by the study (at a cost of $172K) were not accurate.

And, why can't you see the PowerPoint presentation on the County website. Because it has never been posted as required by the State Sunshine Laws. You could have seen it on the video of the meeting until Friday when the link was removed. That was illegal too. Fortunately, the video is still on the server and we have the URL. So if you click HERE, you will be able to see the whole meeting including the graphs.

We have taken Manatee County data (only) and have produced a graph that compares impact fee data from 2007, 2009, and 2011 with the most recent data from the TischlerBise impact fee study which cost the County $172,000. That study divides the County into four districts each with its own impact fee rate. That information is graphed along with the average rate for all four districts. Note that the average rate is only $84 more that the 2007 rate. The rates in 2009 and 2011 were lower because the developers convinced the BoCC that it would help sell more houses and produce more jobs during a slumping economy. There is absolutely no proof that even a single house was sold because of reduced impact fees.

You may see the new graph by clicking HERE. As you can see there is no reason why Manatee County should not charge the full recommended impact fee, 100%, as recommended by the most recent impact fee study and not 90% as recommended by the County Administrator. If they don't, you know who will make up the difference. You, the taxpayer will.


November 18, 2015

Was it the County or the School District or both that totally ignored Ordinance 11-022 which required that a study of school Impact Fees be done before July 27, 2013. Section 3(c) of that Ordinance states in part that:

"During the aforesaid four-year period the County, in cooperation with the school board, shall conduct a study of the educational facilities impact fee, and at the end of such four-year period shall make such modifications to Section 2-29-85 as are necessary to assure that the rates established thereunder are based on the most recent and localized data in accordance with the requirements of Section 163.31801 , Florida Statutes".

After the suspension of school impact fees (called "educational facilities impact fees" in the Ordinance) ended on July 27, 2013, it was anticipated that collection of school impact fees would be immediately resumed, but they weren't. When the County was questioned about that, they responded that resumption "Require that the calculation of the impact fee be based on the most recent and localized data." and that required a recent study (within five years) that had not been done.

That raises the question, why wasn't the study done as required by the ordinance? Who, the person or persons, was responsible for arranging that the study be done? When they failed to fulfill their responsibility to arrange for the study they performed an illegal act by omission and they should be made accountable because they broke the law and cost the School System tens of millions of dollars.

Until these questions are answered and those responsible are made accountable we, the voters of Manatee County, should not approve the extension of the half-percent sales tax.

November 14, 2015

The State of Florida enacted the Impact Fee Act in 1986 to allow communities all over Florida to make developers pay for infrastructure (schools, land for schools, school buses, and more) that is required because of new development. To make sure communities weren't overcharging they were required to do a study that would determine how much the developers should pay.

Before impact fees were allowed, high growth communities were being devastated trying to keep up with new infrastructure required by new development and taxes were going through the roof. When communities such as Manatee County started collecting impact fees the developers complained because that cut into their profit. Their solution was to find candidates they could control and and then finance their campaigns. It worked, candidates elected because of the financial support of the developers started changing the local impact fee ordinances giving the developers huge profits and increasing taxes on tax payers.

That is what happened in 2009 when the Board of County Commissioners in collaboration with the School Board suspended collection of school impact fees. Since then the school system has lost over sixty million dollars because of non-collection of school impact fees and the developers now have that money to finance more candidates but most of it goes directly into their bank accounts.

The ordinance that suspended the collection of school impact fees required that a study be done before collection could be resumed but unlawfully the study wasn't done so the suspension continued. Finally, this year, 2015, the study was done (at a cost of $50,000 to the school system) by TischlerBise, a very reputable and well known company that has done over 900 impact fee studies all over the country. The study results indicate two things: 1)There is a need to collect school impact fees and 2)The amount of that fee is established for each kind of residential construction.


How did this happen? How did the School Board come up with this complex scheme during the meeting. Did they meet with developers before the meeting or was there illegal communication between members of the School Board and the developers. Look at the video on the School Board website. (click on the blue text). It is a long meeting but you may scroll to different parts of the meeting by pointing to the bottom of the video and by dragging the little circle that appears in the gray bar. What do you see? (Make sure you look at 4:08:00 in the video, at Neal and Beruff in the background.) Are there any attempts by any individuals to send text messages during the meeting? Is there any evidence that Board members are reading or writing text messages. Does anyone's phone ring during the meeting. You be the judge.


November 8, 2015

We are OUTRAGED. The developers have, once again, tampered

with the School Board to delay full implantation of School Impact Fees. We just realized that School Board Resolution 15-08 includes wording that will delay 100% collection of School Impact Fees for two years. The first year they would pay only 50%, the second year only 75%, and only during the third year would they pay the full amount. Haven't they cheated our kids enough? Haven't they cheated the taxpayers enough? The School Board MUST amend Resolution 15-08 so that the full School Impact Fee is collected IMMEDIATELY.


September 12, 2015

The City of Bradenton wants to GIVE Glazier-Gates Park to developers so they can
chop down all the 100+ year old trees and everything else and build 531 multi-story
"upscale” apartment units. Click HERE to read more.

Confused About School Impact Fees?
June 14, 2015

Click HERE to view a PowerPoint Show about what they are and how Manatee County is subsidizing land developers at the expense of tax payers.

Our Manatee County Schools Have A
"C" Rating - What Does That Mean?
May 6, 2015

According to the Florida Department of Education, these are the scores Manatee County Schools received in various subject areas to earn the "C" rating for 2014:

Reading - Satisfactory or Higher = 55%
Math - Satisfactory or Higher = 59%
Writing - Satisfactory or Higher = 53%
Science - Satisfactory or Higher = 66%

Isn't it misleading to give the Manatee County School District a "C" rating with scores like that? Can't we do better? Would better funding help? Would the $60,000,000+ in school impact fees the schools didn't receive since 2009 have helped? The suspension of collection of school impact fees ended in July, 2013 but the County (Which is responsible for collecting those fees) has not done so. They are in non-compliance of Ordinance 11-022. Is it time to take legal action? Let us know your thoughts. Send your emails to ourmanateecounty@gmail.com

Manatee County is Giving Home Builders
at Least $10,000.00 Per Day of Your Money
May 2, 2015

Contrary to the wishes of the taxpayers of Manatee County the Board of County Commissioners approved (in 2009) a suspension of the "charging and collection" of school impact fees. That suspension ended on July 27, 2013 yet the County has not collected one cent in school impact fees from home builders since then. Click here to see the ordinance which specifies the specific dates of the suspension (highlighted). The County has claimed that an impact fee study must be done before they may resume collection of school impact fees. That is not true. The State of Florida requires a study be done before a new impact fee is imposed or if new rates are to be imposed but it does not say that a study must be done when collection of an impact is resumed after a suspension. It does say that impact fee "must be based the most recent and localized data". Although the data was collected before the suspension of the collection of the fees it is still the most recent until a new study is done. Click here to see Florida Impact Fee Statute 163.31801.

School Impact Fees Still
Not Being Collected By County
April 18, 2015

Click here to see a PowerPoint Show that outlines how developers, in cahoots with certain County officials, have been able to defraud Manatee County taxpayers of millions of dollars and how they are continuing to do so after more than five-and-a-half years. 

School Impact Fees Not Collected
by County as Required by Law
Feb. 6, 2015

On May 19, 2009, the County enacted Ordinance No. 09-36 to “temporarily suspend the levy of Educational Facilities Fees" (School impact fees). That ordinance became effective on July 27, 2009.

Fee collection was scheduled to resume on July 27, 2011 but on June 22nd , 2011, the Board of County Commissioners passed Ordinance 11-22 which extended the suspension of school impact fees for two more years with a new resumption date of July 27, 2013.  After extensive searching, no further extension of the suspension of school impact fees could be found on the County website, the School District website or elsewhere in the Internet..

As of July 27th, 2013 Manatee County should have been collecting a school impact fee for every permit granted for the construction of a dwelling unit in Manatee County and those funds should now be available to the school district for approved expenditures.

It appears that the County may not have collected school impact fees after July 27, 2013 as scheduled.  It is not known why those fees were not collected as required by law.  If this is, in fact the case, it is not know how the County plans to collect the past-due school impact fees.

No School Impact Fees
Means No New Schools
Jan. 11, 2015

School Impact Fees were suspended on July 27th, 2009 and were scheduled to resume on July 27th, 2013. As of January 10, 2015 collection of school impact fees has not been resumed. The developers get to keep the money and there is no money for new schools or for other capitol expenditures necessitated by new development. Click here to see an image of the County website that was captured in December, 2014 but has since been changed.


15 Reasons Why You Should Not
Vote for Carol Whitmore
October 16, 2014


BoCC Requested to Petition Obama
to Protect Cortez Village and Seagrass
September 20, 2014

On Tuesday, September 16th, a group of Manatee County residents journeyed down to the County office building to attend a BoCC workshop and to request that the Board petition President Obama to declare the Seagrass area of Sarasota Bay south of Cortez Village as a protected National Preserve. See Bradenton Times article here. Please click the link to the right of this article to sign the petition. (After signing and clicking the "Sign Now" button there will be a request from the website for a donation. No donation is required, just close the page.)


Letter to the editor Topic: Just say "NO" to Mosaic!
July 6, 2014

"On 6/3/14 there was a letter in the Charlotte Sun titled "Just say "NO" to Mosaic. The letter asks "Has your community or organization accepted money from Mosaic.  If so, that "gift" comes with strings.  Your group may now be listed on the Mosaic site as a "supporter" of strip mining.  Since you took the money, do you really think you can object to anything they do in the future?  Would you dare?"

His advice was to think twice about taking money from any corporation with an agenda.  He stated individual integrity is worth something and when Mosaic comes around with their checkbook open, turn them down."

If you agree with this letter, please send a follow-up letter to the editor of the Charlotte Sun at letters@sun-herald.com. It can be as simple as "I agree with the letter writer and just say "NO" to Mosaic" or a letter wondering if everything is for sale? 

The point is to get enough letters to the editor to make it a "press event".  You see the commercials Mosaic has on television every day.  We MUST combat their media onslaught with one of our own.
Please blind copy your letter to nophosphatestripmine@gmail.com
so that a response number can be recorded. It is important to generate as many letters as possible, flooding the newspaper and creating a news event.

Please forward this to everyone you know and ask them to also take action.

Remember, unlike us, many people are new to the area.  They think Mosaic grows oranges and creates nature better than what is was.  They have never seen the moonscape of phosphate strip mining. They need to be educated in the truth about this industry."

Long Bar Pointe - Phase 1
Preliminaty Site Plan
Aptil, 2014

On February 6, 2014, Long Bar Pointe Phase 1 Preliminary Site Plan (aka Shoebox City*) was approved with stipulations by the BoCC.  The developers have resubmitted the plans for consideration.  Contrary to standard practice, they ignored some of the stipulations and recommendations and reintroduced some features that had been removed prior to consideration by the Board.  The Planning Services Division has reviewed the “revised” plans and returned them with twelve pages of required changes. 
*Refers to the shape and size of the lots

Long Bar Pointe - It Isn't Over Yet
December 27, 2013

With the developer's letter to the County ( December 19th) we have a temporary reprieve from our efforts to work toward retention of an environmentally sound Manatee county. In case you missed it, the letter requested withdrawal of the Comprehensive Map Amendment "from further consideration or action at this time". Had that amendment been approved the future land use for most of the Long Bar Point property would have been changed from RES-9 (9 residential units/acre) to MU (Mixed Use - which would have seriously increased the use intensity and total population density of the property).

The letter indicated that they, the developers, were reconsidering their options and it suggested that they have not given up on the marina idea. We need to be prepared for another proposed change to the County Comprehensive Plan including a text amendment and a map amendment.

We cannot accept any development that will in any way cause harm to Sarasota Bay, the mangrove forest, or the diverse wildlife population in the area. We also need to be concerned with a significant increase in population (10,000+) in that part of the County and the repercussions that will have on traffic, schools, emergency services, and other infrastructure. And, we must insure that people and property are not put in harms way by building in the coastal high hazard area. We will be vigilant and we will make our concerns known.

Here We Go Again - Long Bar Pointe
November, 2013

The BoCC has rescheduled the Long Bar Pointe hearing to January 23, 2014. At that meeting the Board will consider the “Long Bar Map Amendment – PA-13-03”. If the Board approves that amendment the Long Bar Pointe property "Future Land Use" will change from RES-9 to MU. We are opposed to this change because in addition to residential construction it would also allow construction of hotels/motels, retail stores such as Walmart, offices, light industrial, warehouse stores such as Sam’s Club, conference centers, and more. Click here for a more complete comparison chart.

We believe that if approved it would have a very damaging impact on Manatee County and disastrous impact on the Long Bar Pointe property and Sarasota Bay. If you agree, please click on the link to the right and sign the petition which opposes this change in Future Land Use. This is a new petition directed at PA-13-03 so please sign this petition even if you signed petitions for the August, 2013 meeting. (Continued - click here to see more.)


The Truth About Long Bar Pointe

Last summer the developers made a number of erroneous statements about Long Bar Point which we refuted. To see the TRUTH and how we set the record straight click here.

We Will Not Forget

Who should you vote for? That is a question many people ask before they go to the polls. Often voters are swayed by glitzy ads, billboards, information they receive in the mail, and name recognition. Unfortunately that information is frequently biased and one sided. Often candidates don't have equal financial support. That gives some an unfair advantage. Candidates sometimes receive significant contributions because a large number of voters support them. Other times candidates are supported by well-to-do beneficiaries who expect reciprocation once elected.

We don't think that is fair and in the best interest of Manatee County. That is why we plan to provide information on all candidates that is unbiased and fair. For example, we understand that it isn't always easy to remember how elected officials voted on issues a year or two ago. Some incumbent candidates count on our forgetfulness to get reelected. Well, we will help with that. We will be your memory, we will not forget. You will be able to come to this website and see who voted for or against the issues that are important to you . For non-incumbents, we will report how they stand on the the issues. If you have questions we will do our best to get answers.

We are not interested in telling you how to vote. Our goal is to provide true and honest information that will help you decide. That is what this website is all about. We will give all candidates equal treatment. We will report information on all candidates including recognition and honors received, tax information, work experience, education, and anything else that might help you decide how to vote.

We will search public records to find information, good and not so good, on all candidates. If you have information on candidates that is important for voters to know, please share it with us. We will verify any information we receive and report it only if it has been 100% verified true.

Our email address is ourmanateecounty@gmail.com. Please email us if you have questions, comments, or information.

Next Story

Coming soon.

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