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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas budget crunch goes digital with Internet meeting, Twitter



Pinellas County will have an "eTownHall" meeting on March 15 for residents to ask questions and offer suggestions about how to cut the $60 million target to help balance the county's budget in 2011 and 2012.

Residents will be able to post messages about what services to cut or save, and watch a live broadcast via the Internet.

For people without a computer, the Palm Harbor Library, Largo Library and the Johnson branch of the St. Petersburg library will have computer access during the event.

A blog will open a day before the meeting for people to ask questions.

The county still plans traditional meetings in different parts of the counties in March: at Palm Harbor University High on Wednesday, March 3; Osceola High in Seminole on Thursday, March 11, and Gibbs High in St. Petersburg on Thursday, March 18. All start at 5:30 p.m.

The county also has launched a Twitter page for news,

Full release on the eTownHall meeting by clicking below.

-- David DeCamp, Times staff writer

Parks, social services, roads … with $60 million of reductions needed to balance the next county budget, Pinellas County Commissioners are looking to citizens for feedback on which services and programs are essential and which can be reduced or eliminated.

In order to reach out to as many citizens as possible, Pinellas County government is going online this budget season to ask residents for their cost-saving ideas and listen to their funding priorities.

The county will premiere eTownHall on Monday, March 15, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The online meeting will enable the public to send questions from their computers via a blog. The blog will open at 9 a.m. Sunday, March 14, for citizens to send questions in advance of the meeting and will continue to be open until the end of the event, at 8 p.m. Monday.

On the website, next to the blog, there will be a live broadcast of the eTownHall meeting showing the County Commissioners responding to the questions posed by citizens. The link will be posted on

The meeting can also be viewed via live streaming video on or on the PCC-TV cable channels (Bright House 622, Knology 18 and Verizon 44).

Computer access will be available during the eTownHall meeting at three county libraries: Palm Harbor Library, 2330 Nebraska Ave.; Largo Library, 120 Central Park Drive and the Johnson Branch of the St. Petersburg Library, 1059 18 th Ave. S.

The county launched a Twitter page and YouTube channel for easy access to budget information. Go to to log on to the pages and receive updated budget news.

Traditional public budget meetings are also scheduled in three areas of the county:  

Wednesday, March 3, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Palm Harbor University High School, 1900 Omaha St., Palm Harbor
Thursday, March 11, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Osceola High School , 9751 98 th St. N. , Seminole
Thursday, March 18, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Gibbs High School , 850 34 th St. S. , St. Petersburg 

Residents are encouraged to bring their cost-saving ideas to share with County Commissioners , the county administrator and key staff members. Participants will also have the opportunity to learn about the budget process and ask questions about specific budget issues.

For more information on the meetings, visit or call (727) 464-3000. The public can provide additional feedback by submitting their ideas online at , where information on the budget process is also available. The Citizens’ Guide to the Budget website includes presentations and videos of the commission budget meetings.

 Another avenue for citizen feedback is during the citizens’ comments portion of County Commission :PlaceName meetings at the County Courthouse , 315 Court St., :placeClearwater . Check the meeting schedule online at by clicking County Calendar .

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:25pm]


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