How County Government Works
Table of Contents
Why do we need county government?
Without state and local government, our life would be difficult. Governments make decisions on what is best for the general good of our community. They put rules and systems in place so that people in our community can live together peacefully.
Imagine what would happen if people in our community could do exactly what they want without any concern for other citizens. Imagine what your own home would be like without any rules. We need rules to keep many parts of our lives in order. State and local governments, as well as federal governments, make and enforce rules to benefit us all.
What does Manatee County Government do?
The Manatee County Government manages community needs, such as:
- approving new homes and housing developments
- provide public libraries
- build and manage public parks and gardens
- provide waste management and recycling services
- provide emergency medical services
- provide public safety and emergency management services before, during and after natural disasters
- provide bus (MCAT) or transit services
- provide safe streets and traffic lights
- provide safe, reliable drinking water
- build and maintain sidewalks, roads, bridges and crosswalks
- provide animal services
- provide social services for indigent, elderly, veterans, and more
How does Manatee County Government pay for the services in the community?
There are four main ways the county raises money:
- Property Taxes: Every property owner in the county pays an amount to the Tax Collector each year based on a rate set by the Board of County Commissioners. This is called a millage rate and it is used to calculate the taxes property owners pay when applied to the value of the property they own.
- Fees for Services: Residents of Manatee County pay fees for some services provided by the county. For instance, when you use the swimming pool, play a sport or take classes at G.T. Bray Park you pay a fee for the service. Your dog is registered each year with the payment of a fee. People also have to pay for a building permit when they build a new home or make changes to their home or property like put up a fence in their yard. There are also fees that are called "fines". These fines are charged when people do not obey the rules. If your library book is due back at the library and you don't take it back, you will be changed a fine for each day until it is returned.
- Loans: The county can borrow money for large projects and then repay the loan over a period of time. However, interest must be paid as well as the amount that was borrowed, which makes this an expensive way to raise money.
- Grants: The Government can be awarded a grant to perform a specific task or project needed for the citizens. The Manatee County Transit, or MCAT, receives grants to allow students or senior citizens to ride the bus for less than other passengers.
How does Manatee County Government decide where and how money is spent?
One of the main roles of the Board of County Commissioners is to manage the money it raises. With the help of the County Administrator, the county allocates amounts of money to be spent in various areas. This is called a budget.
There are some things that must always be included in the County's annual budget. These include things like trash removal, road maintenance, public safety and emergency services--to mention a few.
New projects are also suggested by citizens living in the community. For instance, some may want a new ball field in a local park or a stop sign or traffic lights at an intersection.
County staff help the County Administrator to estimate the costs of projects and who might benefit from them. Together they work out the priorities and include them in the budget.
Any citizen can attend the meetings of the Board of County Commissioners to hear what it happening or to present their opinion on something the board is voting on. The Board meets in the Commission Chambers in the County Administration Building, which is located at 1112 Manatee Avenue West in Bradenton, Florida.
How does Manatee's County Government work?
In Manatee County the Board of County Commissioners are elected by the citizens and have many resposibilities for county government and to meet the needs of the residents. The Commission is made up of 7 people who represent different areas of the county. One very important job of the Commission is to adopt Ordinances (or laws) and other county policies that protect the people who live and work here in Manatee.
The Board of County Commissioners hires the County Administrator. The administrator is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the work and function of the county government. He supervises and manages the county department directors, except for those agencies that have their own authority and are elected, such as the Sheriff, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Tax Collector, Supervisor of Elections, and Property Appraiser.