Longboat Key officials want the state to look at changing county lines

Longboat Key County Debate

LONGBOAT KEY (WWSB) - Longboat Key officials are once again talking about how the town straddles the Manatee-Sarasota County line.

Town Manager, Tom Harmer, said it's time to pick a side. Two thirds of Longboat Key sits in Sarasota County and the rest is in Manatee County.

Harmer said this forces Longboat Key to deal with two of everything- sheriff’s offices, elections, and tax collectors. Meanwhile, the people who live on the Sarasota County side pay significantly less in taxes. Town leaders say it’s time to move the county line so that everyone is living under the same rules.

"If the Manatee County portion shifted into Sarasota County, they would pay over $4.4 million less in taxes if that shift occurred. Likewise, we've looked at if Sarasota County shifted into Manatee County, they would pay over $10 million more in taxes for that shift," said Harmer.

Both Sarasota and Manatee County financially depend on having Longboat Key as part of their county, so if there is a change the other county would feel the impact.

Harmer said along with financial differences of the counties, having two different emergency operation centers during Hurricane Irma created issues for Longboat Key.

"When do they call for an evacuation, the timing may not be the same. If they issue a curfew or not, when they allow reentry, some of the terminology they use for sheltering is different as so we have to kind of synthesize that for the public and explain it because we are getting two different directions from two different EOCs," Harmer said.

Longboat Key is now in the process of asking a group with the state legislature for an independent review of the situation. The state does have the final say on changing county lines, and there's no timeline as to when and if this shift will happen.

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