Manatee County Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions Referendum (June 2013)

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A Manatee County Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions Referendum ballot question was narrowly approved on the June 18, 2013, election ballot in Manatee County, which is in Florida.

The measure authorized the Board of County Commissioners to grant property tax exemptions to businesses that are developing and creating new, full-time jobs in the county.[1]

Election results

Tax Exemption Referendum
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 20,396 52.53%
No18,42447.46%
These results are from the Manatee County elections office.

Text of measure

Question on the ballot:

Shall the Board of County Commissioners of this County be authorized to grant, pursuant to Section 3, Article VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new, full-time jobs in the county?

YES - For authority to grant exemptions

NO - Against authority to grant exemptions[1][2]

Support

Supporters of this measure argued that Manatee County had a competitive disadvantage when it came to attracting and developing business and job growth since the surrounding counties employed tax exemptions similar to the one requested by this measure. They argued that this measure would bring home purchases, restaurant income, retail sales and, in general, more money flow through the county.[3]

Sharon Hillstrom, President and CEO of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, said, "We are the hole in the donut. We are surrounded by counties that offer tax abatements and we don't know what economic activity we are missing."[4]

Opposition

Opponents, pointing to the ambiguity in the measure concerning what qualifies as "new jobs" and to what extent the business will be exempt from tax, said that this measure was a gamble and implied that it might be taken advantage of by businesses who just want to avoid their fair share taxes. Commissioner Robin DiSabatino said, "What happens when someone else comes along with a similar proposal, we are obligated to give them the same deal. It's arbitrary (...) It's not spelled out." DiSabatino went on to say, "What qualifies as new? How much is it, 50 percent, 100 percent and for how long?"[4]

Steve Vernon of Tea Party Manatee also criticized this measure asking, "Why should the county be choosing which company gets free money and which doesn't?." Vernon argued that treating businesses differently based on job growth is not the best way to increase business activity in the county: "Essentially the false premise here is that it's all about jobs. You can do a lot of things to attract jobs without favoring one company over another. Cut taxes and business regulations across the board."[5]

See also

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References