Concept to save center gains traction in Holmes Beach

A saving grace is needed for the Anna Maria Island Community Center — and soon.

Ideas filled the gym at a meeting held June 4 at the center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. One concept, creating a special tax district, could work its way to the Holmes Beach City Commission and a referendum question for voters.

Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino said he plans to present the idea to the city commission because it’s important for the city to support the center for the services it offers residents, as well as the recreational requirements the center fulfills in the city’s comprehensive plan.

“The comp plan requires more than a regular old green-space park,” Zaccagnino said.

He said the city already supports the center, funding $22,500 annually since 2009, but a special tax district with an assessment on property tax bills could benefit the city and the center.

The tax could provide the center more money, while rolling $22,500 back into the city budget.

“It would level the playing field because Holmes Beach has a lot of rentals. It would be a way for rentals to give back to the residents,” he said.

Zaccagnino estimated Holmes beach has 4,000 properties and, he said, a $25 tax per parcel, could add $100,000 annually to the center’s ailing budget.

An added fee on the property tax bill would be similar to a line-item fee property owners in Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach pay now for stormwater assessment, and residents of the West Manatee Fire District pay for fire service.

“If Holmes Beach is in the lead on it, maybe Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria will follow,” he said.

Zaccagnino said he is “doing homework and talking to some people” regarding the proposition. However, he is waiting to bring the issue up to the city commission before taking any next steps.

“It’s a really good idea and I will bring it up. If the commission thinks it’s a good idea and there’s a consensus, there will probably be a referendum on the ballot, and the voters can decide,” said Zaccagnino.

The tax district and assessment fee to fund the center was brought up to the center and the island’s city officials at June 4 the “Save our Center” meeting by Islander publisher Bonner Joy.

In the meantime, center staff members and the board of directors have their fingers crossed the community will provide enough support to keep the facility open until a more permanent solution is found.

“There’s no doubt in my mind they’ll pull a plan together. There’s a lot of smart people on the board. Right now they need all the support they can get from the community to make it through the summer,” Zaccagnino said.

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