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A Tampa Bay county is a billion dollars behind in road repair projects, residents approve sales tax

Manatee residents approve half-cent tax to fix it
Posted at 5:32 PM, Nov 15, 2016

Manatee County is in desperate need of infrastructure money. Right now, they’re a billion-and-a-half dollars behind, in road repair projects. County leaders and residents are hoping a newly passed half-cent sales tax is going to help fix it.

A 10-figure deficit and a half cent sales tax is trying to close the gap.

“The need was tremendous," said Nicholas Azzara, the county's spokesman.

Busy county roads have no sidewalks, no shoulders and plenty of potholes. Christian Meudt has lived in the county for 30 years. He says roads have gotten so bad, it’s making it hard for even pedestrians to get around.

“They trip over the bricks that are sticking up out of the ground and they fall on their face," he said.

The half-cent tax is expected to raise $30 million in a year. 71% of revenue would go toward nearly 200 road repair projects. The average person would pay around $5 a month in sales tax.

But it’s not just roads needing improvements. 15% of tax revenues will help upgrade the county sheriff’s office equipment. The remaining 14% goes toward fixing major issues at parks and community amenities. Some branch libraries are so congested, they’re checking out material every 30 seconds and signing up a new library card every half an hour.

“There have been minor repairs done over time but at the end of the day, they are in sore need of additional space," said Azzara.

Part of the money will go toward expanding existing libraries. The county starts collecting January 1st.