Cut county commissioners' aides, save the environment?
Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverley Billiris wants the Pinellas County Commission to spare the Brooker Creek Preserve's education center from mothball-style budget cuts.
Billiris, who also happens to be running to unseat County Commissioner Susan Latvala in this year's GOP primary, offered this alternative in a letter (Brooker Creek Preserve Env. Education Center) to Commission Chairwoman Karen Seel:
"As you are looking at your overall budget, have you discussed looking at the County Commissioner's (sic) own budget? It is my understanding that each Commissioner has a secretary at a cost of $40K plus benefits a year. Have you considered cutting some of that cost by having a secretary for the Commission Chair and one secretary to cover the needs of the rest of the board or any reduction to save costs? This would be a savings of $200,000 plus."
Billiris's letter also says even temporarily closing Brooker would be "devastating" and cutting the commissioners' spending would send a "powerful message" that the board is willing to sacrifice to keep parks and preserves open.
The county is trying to cut $60 million for the 2011 budget, which still leaves $20 million to cut for 2012.
David DeCamp, Times staff writer