Manatee county voters to decide on half-cent sales tax during June referendum

  • Mar 12, 2013

County Commission has agreed to ask voters to consider the tax to fund community health costs

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (March 12, 2013) – Manatee County voters will have the final say over whether to fund community health care costs through a half-cent sales tax referendum in June.


County Commissioners today voted 4-3 to ask the community to consider a half-cent sales tax that will generate $23 million. Manatee County now pays for community health care using both property taxes and a health care fund that’s set to run out in 2015. The new half-cent sales tax will generate enough to cover the expiring fund and much of the property tax-funded portion. In turn, property taxes could be reduced by about $10 million.  


The referendum will be held Tuesday, June 18, 2013. If approved by a majority of Manatee voters, the half-cent sales tax would be about $64 a year for many middle class families, based on IRS estimates. It would begin Jan. 1, 2014 and would only be charged to items under $5,000. More details about the half-cent sales tax are available with information the Board considered today.


Commissioners Larry Bustle, Michael Gallen, John Chappie and Carol Whitmore, voted in favor of the referendum, stating that something must be done to address the expiring health care fund. They also liked the idea of a June referendum because it allows the County Administrator to present a budget proposal that includes a significant property tax reduction to offset the new sales tax. Details on how the county plans to reduce countywide property taxes is available at


Commissioners Robin DiSabatino, Vanessa Baugh and Betsy Benac agreed that something needed to be done about community health care but voted against the June referendum, stating they wanted more information on how the new tax will be spent, and to see whether the Affordable Health Care for America Act will reduce local healthcare expenses. 


Eligible uses are very specific for the proposed half-cent sales tax. Florida Statute requires that the funds from this kind of sales tax can only be spent on healthcare costs for qualified residents of the county.


For more information on Manatee County Government, visit online at or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.