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  What Newcomers Need To Know About Manatee County

...ABOUT GETTING AROUND

Residents of Manatee County enjoy convenient access to interstate and state highways, including I-275, I-75, US 301, US 41, State Road 64 and State Road 70. This access makes it easy for travelers to commute to and visit nearby cities and towns, such as:

Sarasota - - 15 miles
Tampa - - 51 miles
Fort Myers - - 87 miles
Orlando - - 119 miles

as well as other southern population centers, including:

Miami - - 221 miles
Jacksonville - - 235 miles
Atlanta - - 496 miles

Manatee County also offers its residents and visitors convenient use of a public transportation bus system, which operates six days a week. Fares start at $1, enabling riders to travel as far south as Sarasota's John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and as far north as Palmetto. Senior citizens (age 60+) and physically challenged individuals are entitled to discounted fares. To learn more about Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) and its schedules, visit its information booth located just outside the county courthouse (115 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton) or call 749-7116. Daily service to a variety of other destinations within Florida and the United States is also available via Greyhound Bus Line.

The Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport is located just 10 miles south of the city of Bradenton, offering air travelers their choice of seven major carriers and four commuter airlines. In addition to a wide range of customer and general aviation services, this global thoroughfare is also a U.S. Customs port of entry. Each year, in excess of 2 million people travel through its gates, helping to inject more than $800 million into the local economy.

Tampa Bay's southern shore is home to one of Florida's major seaports. Located in Palmetto, Port Manatee not only harbors facilities for shipboard cargo transportation, but - because of its close proximity to major highways and airports - also serves as a docking facility for the state's thriving cruise industry.

...ABOUT REGISTERING YOUR MOTOR VEHICLE

The Manatee County Tax Collector's Office requires newcomers to register their vehicles within 10 days of employment or enrolling children in school. In order to register a vehicle, drivers must present a current driver's license, proof of automobile insurance (from a Florida-licensed agent), title to the vehicle and a previous registration certificate. Newcomers can register vehicles, obtain license tags and purchase disabled parking permits at any of the following offices:

    Bradenton/DeSoto Office - - 819 U.S. 301 Bloulevard
    Downtown - - 415 10th Street West
    Holmes Beach - - 3340 East Bay Drive
    Palmetto - - 1341 U.S. 301
    Sunshine State Tag Office - - 6807 State Road 70 East

The vehicle’s identification number must be verified at the time of application for a Florida license plate. Fees are based on vehicle weight. The State also requies itsnewcomers to obtain a Florida Title Certificate. If there is a lien on a vehicle,, a transfer of title is also necessary. To learn more about this process or to make an appointment, call 741-4811 (24-hours-a-day). You can also access the Manatee County Tax Collector's Office via the Internet at www.taxcollector.com.

...ABOUT GETTING A DRIVER'S LICENSE

The state requires newcomers who drive to apply for a Florida driver's license within 30 days of becoming a resident. In order to obtain a license, be prepared to show proof of Florida registration of your vehicle, an out-of-state driver's license and Social Security card. Drivers who currently possess a valid out-of-state driver's license and have a driving record free of violations are only required to pass a vision test. However, drivers who have offenses against their license or drivers attempting to acquire a license for the first time must also pass a written exam (based on the Florida Driver's Handbook) as well as a driving test. For additional information, call the Division of Drivers' Licenses at 941-741-3017.

...ABOUT LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Manatee County operates under a constitutional form of government adopted in 1921. A seven-member commission based out of the Manatee County Government Administration Center in Bradenton meets weekly to address issues and concerns relative to county residents. In addition, the county also has an appointed administrator and its citizens, who take their voting rights very seriously, regularly elect a tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, sheriff and clerk of the circuit court.

...ABOUT PROOF OF RESIDENCE

Proof of residence may be required before some employers will hire newcomers. In order to establish residency in Florida, a Declaration of Domicile must be filed; this document certifies that the applicant lives at a specified address. To file this declaration, visit the Clerk of Court's Office; the document can also be notarized at this location.

...ABOUT VOTER REGISTRATION

Newcomers interested in obtaining a voter's registration card can do so by visiting the Supervisor of Elections Office (305 15th St. W., Bradenton; 741-3823) or any Department of Motor Vehicles office. To qualify, potential voters must be U.S. citizens of at least 18 years of age. Keep in mind that registration books close 29 days prior to elections.

... ABOUT OBTAINING SPORTING LICENSES

Manatee County requires its anglers and hunters to obtain the appropriate licensure. In addition to most sporting goods outlets and bait shops, these licenses can be obtained at any Manatee County Tax Collector's office as well as area Wal-Mart and Kmart stores. Children under the age of 16 do not require licensure. Seniors over the age of 65 possessing a valid Florida driver's license or Florida voter's registration card are also not required to obtain sporting licenses. The fee structure for hunting and fishing licenses varies according to residency and use. License can also be purchased online at www.manateechamber.com.

...ABOUT LOCAL & STATE TAXES

Many newcomers are drawn to Manatee County because of its favorable tax structure, which features no personal income taxes or inheritance taxes. In lieu of this form of taxation, the government relies primarily on sales (the sales tax in Manatee County is seven percent; medical items and groceries are exempt from taxation) and property taxes for its main sources of income (homeowners in Florida who use their home as their residence and meet certain other requirements may be eligible for a $25,000 homestead exemption).

Bonds, stocks, accounts receivable and certain other personal property are subject to a small annual tax; this tax is based on the value of these assets beginning on January 1 of each year and only applies to values in excess of $20,000 for individuals or $40,000 for husbands and wives filing jointly. Currently, the rate is 1 mill, which equates to $1 per $1,000. Other assets, including accounts receivable, annuities and mortgages held outside the state, are levied at a rate of 2 mills per $1,000. Additional information about this taxation is available from the Florida Department of Revenue at 800/352-3672 and on its website, located at http://sun6.dms.state.fl.us/dor

With the exception of real estate, personal property belonging to a business is subject to a tangible tax. To comply with this requirement, businesses must file a return prior to April 1 of each year; failure to file this return results in a 10 percent penalty. Tangible personal property and ad valorem (real estate) tax bills are mailed in mid-November of each year. For additional information about these taxes, contact the Manatee County Property Appraiser's office at 748-8208 or visit its website at www.manateepao.com.

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