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Manatee Ranked 4th Worst County in U.S.for Taxpayer Value

High crime and below average schools offset relatively low property tax rates

Published Wednesday, April 30, 2014 12:10 am

BRADENTON – Who's getting the best value for their property tax dollar? Not Manatee County, at least according to the results of a recent analysis by financial data company SmartAsset. The rankings focused on the two universal services provided by municipal governments – public education and law enforcement – and ranked counties based on their performance in those areas weighted against property tax rates and property tax paid per capita. Manatee ranked 4th from the bottom on the list, which looked at all counties with 50,000 or more people (about half of the U.S.).

Schools were ranked from 10 (the best) to 1 (the worst) according to an average of math and reading performance proficiencies in standardized tests, weighted by number of students. Counties that rated a 10 had schools in the top decile in the state. Law enforcement was judged according to violent and property crime rates per 100,000 people. According to the FBI, violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crime includes things like burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson.

To create the tax value index, the county school rankings and crime rates were compared to the average property tax amount paid per-person per-year to obtain a number representing public service value per tax dollar. Basically, the greater the number, the more residents get for their tax dollars. Manatee's scores are listed below.

School rank:  5
Property tax:  1.47 percent
Property tax per capita:  $1,038.91
Violent crimes per 100,000:  451.3
Property crimes per 100,000:  2425.3
Tax value index:  1.673

Manatee was one of four Florida counties to appear in the bottom 10. Escambia, Clay and Monroe were also named. No Florida counties made the Top 10 list. The number one value according to the analysis was Dakota, MN (population around 400,000), where low property taxes and very low crime rates, anchored by above average schools, made it a good bargain for citizens. Dakota's data appears below.

School rank:  7
Property tax:  1.57 percent
Property tax per capita:  $1,212.65
Violent crimes per 100,000:  87.4
Property crimes per 100,000:  45.1
Tax value index: 43.601

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Having followed the actions of our Board of County Commissioners, I an not surprised by these findings. It is past time for our elected officials to legislate for local citizens as a whole, not just for well-connected campaign donors.
Posted by Nancy R Dean on May 1, 2014

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