What Manatee Residents Should Know By 2022


A hectic 2021 is drawing to a close, but the New Year is already bringing several top priorities to the fore in Manatee County.

Authorities continue efforts to permanently shut down the former Piney Point fertilizer plant, make progress in the fight against COVID-19, implement a new tax that will protect environmentally valuable land, and allocate funds of the American Rescue Plan Act. There is also a high profile election looming.

Here are the top five issues Manatee County residents need to watch out for over the next year:

Closure of Piney Point

The former Piney Point fertilizer plant disaster in April is looming in the minds of residents of Suncoast, and local and state officials continue to grapple with options to clean up the damage.

In late March, state officials gave the green light to an emergency discharge of approximately 215 million gallons of nutrient-rich wastewater from Piney Point in response to a breach in one of the phosphogypsum stacks at installation.

Funding to permanently shut down the facility is at the top of Manatee County’s legislative priorities for the second year in a row, and teams are ready to build a new underground injection well to remove the remaining sewage.

Previously:Project to inject Piney Point wastewater underground has criticism

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection granted the county permit, marking the first time that an injection well will be used to dispose of phosphate waste in the state. The well will be constructed across from Piney Point on Buckeye Road, near the Hillsborough County border.

In 2022, county commissioners are asking lawmakers to approve the second half of the $ 200 million in funding pledged by the state to shut down the facility. A final plan to close the site is also being prepared by a third party – appointed by the courts in August to manage the site – and should be submitted to the DEP early next year.

Related:Environmental groups to sue Manatee over Piney Point waste disposal plan

And:Manatee Judge appoints third party to take over management of Piney Point

COVID-19 recovery

COVID-19 vaccination efforts continue in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Communities across the country are recovering from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.

The Manatee economy has rebounded, boosted this year by a high number of tourists and a booming housing market fueled by a growing number of new residents moving to the county.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 235,376 people in Manatee have been vaccinated, or 61.2% of residents aged 5 and over.

Hospital admissions peaked this year between early July and late October, but those numbers have declined significantly since.

Yet 2022 brings uncertainty with the emergence of new variants of the deadly virus and growing dissent from residents wary of COVID-19 vaccines and federal mandates requiring vaccinations for major employers.

It also remains to be seen how effective the vaccines are against the newer variants, how many vaccinated residents line up for booster shots, and whether parents are ready to vaccinate their youngest children.

Sarasota government employees are not required to be vaccinated against COVID

Environmental property tax

A 71% majority of Manatee County voters approved the tax in November 2020. The referendum allows the county to issue up to $ 50 million in bonds to purchase and protect land for environmental purposes, thus creating 0.15 mil to pay off the debt.

Manatee County Commissioners voted to fund this year’s tax revenue allocation, roughly $ 5.7 million, from the county’s existing reserve funds – and chose to wait until 2022 to draw down the tax.

The move was taken as a way to give residents tax relief, while the county prepares a plan to implement the program.

The Commissioners did not consider purchasing any specific property, but 991 acres of land in Rattlesnake Key, 1,411 acres of land in the Myakka River Valley and approximately 2,000 acres of land in Manatee Grove in North Parrish were mentioned. at previous meetings.

Other news:Windfall from tourism tax revenues fuels major projects in Manatee County

Elections

Manatee County Commissioners Carol Whitmore, Misty Servia and Reggie Bellamy will all be eligible for re-election next year.

Three Manatee County commissioners will be elected next year.

General Commissioner Carol Whitmore is running for re-election against two challengers, Jason Bearden and Carol Ann Felts. District 2 Commissioner Reggie Bellamy, the only Democrat in the county, is running for re-election against the Democrat challenger Charles B. Smith. And District 4 Commissioner Misty Servia is running for re-election against Timothy Norwood.

The November 2020 election brought changes to the county’s board of directors, with the election of three new commissioners and the re-election of Vanessa Baugh from District 5. The four officials often voted together on key issues.

The 2022 elections could tip the scales again, with the three commissioners, who often find themselves on the minority side of controversial votes, now running for office.

Manatee voters will also elect candidates for two non-partisan candidates Manatee County School Board Headquarters. David Levin is running for District 2 seat and Garin C. Hoover is running for District 4 seat.

The 2022 primary elections will take place on August 23 and the general elections on November 8.

American Rescue Plan Act Funding

Manatee County and local towns continue to be under pressure from aging infrastructure, and local officials are prioritizing their projects for funding.

The town of Bradenton plans to use funds to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant, where heavy rains have resulted in the release of approximately160 milliongallons of garbage in the Manatee River in four separate incidents since 2018.

The Town of Longboat Key is also looking to use the funds to upgrade the construction of a new sewer line to transport waste from Barrier Island to the Manatee County Wastewater Treatment Plant. The only sewer line that connects the island community to the mainland burst in 2018, causing an estimated 14.7 million gallons to leakused waters.The new line would create redundancy in the system, which currently relies on the aging line for service.


Comments are closed.