Half-Cent Sales Tax

In the fall of 2016, Manatee voters approved the half-cent sales tax for infrastructure. The half-cent Infrastructure Sales Tax (IST) will raise an estimated $30 million a year, $5 million of which will be distributed to Manatee County's six municipalities. View Ordinance No. 16-35 establishing the sales tax. (Download signed ordinance)

Manatee County Government will use proceeds for major road upgrades to improve traffic throughout Manatee. Other funds will go toward public safety, law enforcement, parks and preserves. 

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Why a sales tax?

Manatee County Commissioners have held our property tax rate flat since 2006 —throughout the Great Recession. Prior to the 2016 vote, property tax revenues had been 18 percent lower than the 2007 rates. The County’s workforce was also reduced by 300 positions. Since that time more than 50,000 residents have moved to Manatee County, putting a huge strain on local resources. In other words, local resources weren’t keeping pace with the growing demand for a growing community.

In early 2016, a citizen panel comprised of County Commissioner appointees and representatives from the County’s largest business groups spent several months examining Manatee’s finances. The Citizens Financial Structure Advisory Board (CFSAB) delivered its findings to the County Commission on April 26, 2016. In their report, the Advisory Board unanimously recommended a voter referendum in the fall of 2016, asking voters to consider a half-cent sales tax to pay for our aging roads and equipment for law enforcement officers, public safety officials and for improvements to our parks.

The committee also recommended bonding proceeds with the sales tax, so that work can begin immediately on a backlog of community needs. 

Funding will be spent on local projects based on a percentage recommendation from the Advisory Board. Here's how the funding is being spent:

  • 71 percent of the funding for roads and transportation-related improvements to relieve congestion throughout the County; 
  • 15 percent for equipment for Manatee Sheriff’s Office and Manatee County Public Safety;
  • 14 percent for parks and community amenities;

Commissioners on June 21, 2016 unanimously approved a November referendum item to ask Manatee voters to consider the half-cent sales tax. With direction from the County Commission, Manatee County staff worked to compile the list of projects that will be funded through the sales tax. Learn more about the projects that may be coming close to your neighborhood by using our interactive map.

Citizen Involvement

Facing another year of difficult budget decisions that pit public safety resources against repairing local roads and infrastructure, County Commissioners formed an independent group to review the County’s finances. After four months of review and research the Citizens Financial Structure Advisory Board found that unincorporated Manatee County’s property tax rates are some of the lowest among 26 Gulf Coast local governments. Despite those low rates, the County relies on them almost entirely to fund its operating budget unlike a lot of other Bay-area counties.

The advisory board unanimously recommended that voters consider a half-cent infrastructure sales tax referendum on the 2016 General Election ballot. They decided a sales tax would make the biggest impact on the issues Manatee County is facing now and into the future. The sales tax option was also preferred as it includes tourists and visitors to Manatee County helping pay for the roads, parks, and services they use throughout the year.

Manatee County voters approved the half-cent infrastructure tax which began on Jan. 1, 2017. A citizens’ oversight committee oversees the sales tax expenditures each year and reports to the Board on whether the tax is being spent on the County’s list of projects. A median income family in Manatee County will contribute about $5 dollars a month. The sales tax is not collected on food, clothing or services.