A look at government action from around the Gulf Coast
$33.7 million cut proposed
MANATEE COUNTY — Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker is proposing a $497 million budget for next year, $33.7 million less than this year's budget due to significant revenue declines.
Property value reductions have resulted in a $16 million drop in property tax revenues. According to a county press release, nearly every taxpayer-funded program and activity will be cut.
Manatee County's constitutional officers, including the Manatee County Sheriff, plan to reduce their budgets by about 5% next year. A total of about 100 positions have been eliminated, including 82 positions from the county administrator's budget and about 20 from constitutional officers' budgets.
The Manatee County Commission will work on the budget during a series of workshops in June. The public can weigh in during a public hearing scheduled for June 18 at 6 p.m. The county administrator's 2009-10 budget message can be found at www.mymanatee.org.
Enterprise Florida grants
FLORIDA — As a means to increase the state's outbound trade relations, a trade promotion initiative by Enterprise Florida, called the Target Sector Trade Event Grants program, will provide event-specific grants on a reimbursable basis to eligible small companies (500 or less employees) if the event is within one of Enterprise Florida's identified international target sectors.
The grant enables first time participants to exhibit in international tradeshow events worldwide where a business otherwise might not have been able to afford to participate.
Interested businesses must apply in writing by completing the Target Sector Trade Event Grant application and contact Enterprise Florida's local representative, Rebecca Torres at (813) 956-5634.
Alarm registration required
PINELLAS COUNTY — In an effort to reduce the 90% of alarms that are false alarms, homeowners and business operators who are located in the unincorporated area of Pinellas County, or in the Sheriff's 12 contract cities, must now register their alarm system with the Sheriff's Alarm Registration Program or SHARP.
Applicants can register with SHARP online at the Pinellas Sheriff's Office website, and click on the SHARP icon. There is no fee to register.
Alarm subscribers registered with SHARP receive two free passes if they experience two false alarms during the year. After the two free passes, they are subject to a fine schedule ranging from $75 to $500 per false alarm.
Subscribers who do not register with SHARP do not receive any free passes for false alarms and are subject to a much steeper fine schedule, ranging from $175 per alarm up to $600 per alarm.
140 projects in downtown
ST. PETERSBURG — The city's Economic Development division has assembled a booklet detailing 140 project developments that have come to comprise the city's downtown landscape over the past 10 years. The booklet provides a detailed description of the project, a color photo image, and assigns a coding system for each project. To find the Downtown Project Development Description Booklet online go to http://stpeteshines.stpete.org.
Retired execs part of Jobs Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On May 20, The House passed the “Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act” (H.R. 2352) 406-15 including the “Retired Executives Building Better Businesses Act” authored by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key.
Buchanan's piece of the legislation aims to modernize the SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) program and would require SCORE administrators to actively recruit and maintain volunteer mentors and track their success. The SCORE program provides entrepreneurs with the advice of working and retired executive volunteers.
Counselors would be required to have at least 10 years of similar experience and ensures qualified SCORE volunteers are available to provide one-on-one advice and counsel to small business owners in Florida and across the country.
The job creating small business assistance bill includes seven bills and is the first overhaul of the Small Business Administration's entrepreneurial development programs in a decade. In addition to modernizing SCORE, the bill expands Small Business Development Centers and Women's Business Centers.
The legislative package also creates new support services for veteran-owned and Native American-owned small businesses, online learning programs to help entrepreneurs in rural regions and underserved communities, and a grant program to help small firms secure capital.
The Economic Development Zones Committee meets Thursday, June 11 at 9 a.m. in the County Manager's Conference Room, 2nd Floor, in the W. Harmon Turner Building at 3301 East Tamiami Trail in Naples.
FORT MYERS and ST. PETERSBURG
Enterprise Florida, in unison with the Economic Development Council of Collier County, hosts the Southwest Region Strategic Planning Forum for Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, on Wednesday, June 17, 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. The event will be held at Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. The forum is to discuss and discover advance recommendations on how to make Florida the leader in knowledge-based jobs, leading-edge technology, and competitive enterprises of the 21st century. Suggested attendees include: business, community, and local government leaders, workforce professionals, education officials, transportation experts, arts and culture advocates, smart growth professionals, and more. For registration, go to www.eflorida.com. The Tampa Bay Regional Strategic Planning Forum is scheduled for June 25 in St. Pete.
The Pinellas County Commission agenda for Tuesday, June 9 includes a budget information session, local preference discussion, and utilities rates and fees. Citizens' comments will be taken on all three items. The meeting will be held in the BCC Assembly Room, 315 Court Street, 5th Floor, Clearwater, and starts at 9:30 a.m.
Hillsborough County's Transportation Task Force is holding a series of meetings to discuss transportation planning efforts and how to implement and fund them. Also involved are the Metropolitan Planning Organization,
Hillsborough Area Regional Transit, Florida Department of Transportation, the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority and three cities.
The meetings are held in conjunction with the Transportation Task Force's work on recommendations for funding multi-modal improvements for the county. Improvements being discussed include light rail, rapid bus transit systems, roadway projects, and bicycle/pedestrian improvements. The task force intends to make a final recommendation to the county this fall. An issue the task force will consider is a recommendation for sales tax for voter referendum in 2010, which the county commission must approve for a voter referendum.
The meetings are 5:30-8:30 p.m. in an open house format, with a presentation from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Meetings are being held on the following dates at these locations:
• Tuesday, June 9, Cross Creek Library (New Tampa), 10001 Cross Creek Boulevard, Tampa
• Wednesday, June 10, Brandon Regional Service Center, 311 Pauls Drive, Brandon
• Monday, June 15, Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa
• Tuesday, June 16, Riverview High School, 11311 Boyette Road, Riverview
• Thursday, June 18, South County Regional Service Center, 410 30th Street, S.E., Ruskin