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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Big cuts by the Pinellas sheriff, new park fees and a big water chiller?

Amid at least $20 million in budget cuts by Sheriff Jim Coats and a debate on charging $8 a car to get into Fort De Soto Park, the Pinellas County Commission wrestled with this Tuesday afternoon:

Spending $12 million on projects that top officials promise will save money later, including $8.5 million on a new water chiller plant for Clearwater offices. The projects include switching to voice-over Internet phones and more energy efficient lightbulbs. County Administrator Bob LaSala said they will ultimately save the county money, paying back their cost.

Some commissioners questioned doing all the projects while they're urging other officials to cut deeply. County officials reminded them the money they'd use would be one-time, not recurring, revenue.

But Commissioner Calvin Harris said that one-time pot of money keeps showing up annually, leading to complaints by other agencies.

"It looks like we're making them fund our pet projects," Harris said.

David DeCamp, Times staff writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:35pm]


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