SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Where does your tax money go?
Nick Azzara, Information Outreach Manager of Manatee County, said, "Every year, Manatee County starts its annual budget process around May and June."
Turns out, where your money is spent has to do how its allocated by the County Commission.
"A lot of it's driven by public requests for additional law enforcement patrols, new sidewalks and other types of services that the county provides. So it's not something that's driven by the staff, but by the public and their requests for service."
This year, Manatee County had a budget of $738 million.
"We have a zero-based budget that starts with the prior year's budget and before anything new can be added, there are a series of public workshops that the County Commission have in June, July, August and September to get final feedback before any decisions are made," Azarra explained.
According to those who take care of collections and disbursements, it's a very transparent system. And most observers agree.
USF Sarasota/Manatee economics professor Michael Snipes said, "One good thing about Florida is that we do have the Sunshine Laws so that there is at least some backstop that we can guarantee at least to a certain extent that that money is going to where they say it's going."
Kimberli Radtke oversees Sarasota County’s $1.24 billion budget, which includes $178.4 million in capital improvement projects.
"A lot of money to keep track of and more and more every year," she said. "It goes within our general fund, that's one of our largest funds at the county, and the general fund supports things like our sheriff, libraries, parks and recreation."
Radtke says it's easy for each and every taxpayer to find out exactly how much of their money goes to everything the county pays for.
"Here at the county, we've created an online tool that we call a 'tax bill breakdown tool.' [For example,] you would make an entry of $200,000 as taxable value on your home and then it will show you the breakdown. So your tax bill is $642.80 that goes to Sarasota County [and] $221.26 of that bill goes to the sheriff's office and you can see all the other agencies here," Radtke explained.
If you want to try out the calculator for yourself, click here.