Facing a big decision
Benjamin Franklin eloquently said, “But in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” We all know that we can’t control death, but taxes are something that we actually have some power over, and next month you’re going to be asked to utilize that power.
On June 18, Manatee County is having a special referendum election to decide if the sales tax should be raised a half-cent from the current 6.5 percent to 7 percent. This increase is expected to generate an estimated $23 million annually which will be earmarked to fund health care costs for the indigent. The plan is designed to replace current funds for indigent care, which will be exhausted in 2015.
There has been a great deal of controversy about this referendum related to both the half-cent sales tax increase and also to the date of the vote. Those in favor of the referendum contend that the funds generated from the sales tax will put the county ahead of the curve when it comes to facing still unknown expenses for indigent health care.
Those against it argue that we shouldn’t be taking steps before we actually know how the state and federal government‘s involvement in the new health care laws will affect Manatee County.
The voting date has also been in question as many Manatee County’s full time residents do leave the county during the summer months.
The more I thought about this the more I recognized that what Manatee County officials crafted in this referendum was well thought out and forward thinking. The Affordable Care Act has provided little if any assurance to businesses, individuals, states and local municipalities as to what their financial responsibilities will be down the road. I think Manatee County taking steps now to fund this future unknown figure is something we as residents should be proud of.
If the referendum passes it will take effect Jan. 1, 2014, and will have a 10- year life. If you are one of those Manatee County residents who will be leaving before the June 18 vote, you can get an absentee ballot, which will be available the week of May 13. Call 941-741-3823 or go on line to votemanatee.com for information on obtaining a ballot. Or if you want more detailed information about the sales tax referendum mymanatee.org will be able to answer most of your questions.
Government’s job is to provide for all citizens, and a sales tax increase is certainly a fair way to generate funds that will be utilized by all. Vote on June 18 and make your voice heard, since as Ben himself told us, taxes are one of the few things in life that are certain.