Tax watch-dog cites four budget "turkeys" in Manatee County

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BRADENTON, FLA   They're at it again. The budget watchdogs that call themselves Florida Taxwatch flagged 107 "turkeys" including four projects in Manatee County it deems wasteful spending.

Adell Erozer, Executive Director of "Turning Points" says she's used to Taxwatch picking apart their requests.

"If they understood how critically it was needed, they wouldn't put us on that list," she said.

"Turning Points" is part of the One Stop Community Resource Center across from McKechnie Field in Bradenton. They offer free medical and dental services to the homeless in Manatee.

Erozer says if they don't get the funding they'll have to ask the community for help.

"Dental care is one of the most critically needed services in our community and we'll have to find a way to fund it," she said.

Also on the Florida Taxwatch hit-list in Manatee County...

*an emergency room diversion program at Manatee Memorial Hospital.

*the Manatee River fair.

*the Community Coalition Hot Meals Program.

*and the free dental and medical services at the One stop Community Resource Center's Turning Point program.

Thomas is a homeless man in Manatee County who says he has used the free dental service at Turning Point.  He says he'd be disappointed if it lost funding.

And though his dental work has been relatively minor, Erozer says others could have died without their free services.

"We've actually saved lives for people who their surgeons told them they wouldn't do the life-saving surgery until they had their mouth infections cleaned up and nobody would do it for them because they didn't have insurance," Erozer said.

Erozer says in the five years since they've been offering free dental care, they've given out the equivalent of $6.5 million dollars in services.

She says Taxwatch has targeted them before, but they did get funding--however that was under a different Governor.

"I hope he (Governor Rick Scott) understands the importance of this center and isn't going to veto it," she said.

Governor Scott has until June 4 to review the four thousand line budget.