Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Advocates for key jobs, arts speak up as Hillsborough County Commission considers budget cuts

TAMPA— After getting a glimpse at Hillsborough County's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, dozens of community members Thursday asked officials to save key jobs and restore funding for arts programs.

The proposed $3.54 billion budget represents a $57 million increase from last year, expanding long-term transportation and water or wastewater projects.

But it seeks to offset a loss of $65 million in property tax revenue partly by reducing expenses by $17 million and drawing $18 million from reserves.

The countywide property tax rate will remain almost the same, $10.76 for every $1,000 of assessed taxable value.

Nearly 300 positions — including the planning and growth management ombudsman, which provides residents with information about permits and review procedures — will be eliminated.

At a public meeting Thursday, dozens of members of the Hispanic community implored county commissioners— in English and Spanish— to save the position held by Maricela Medrano.

Many noted that Medrano, who is bilingual, had helped navigate complex codes and procedures, allowing them to keep homes or to start businesses.

Others asked officials to restore funding to the Arts Council of Hillsborough County.

The council allotted more than $300,000 to 25 arts and cultural organizations, including Community Stepping Stones, an art school in Tampa's Sulphur Springs neighborhood.

Yvenel Casseide, 18, told commissioners how the school helped him discover painting and ceramics and began thinking of attending Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.

"I didn't think of college (earlier). My grades were terrible, quite terrible," said the senior at Blake High School.

County Commissioner Mark Sharpe said that while listening to public sentiment was useful, the board will have to make some unpopular decisions.

"It's always enlightening, but we're in a difficult crossroads," Sharpe said. "Government just can't continue doing what it used to do."

He said even if the ombudsman position is eliminated, the board might find a new use for Medrano's expertise and bilingual skills.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is Sept. 15.

Nandini Jayakrishna can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or [email protected]

Advocates for key jobs, arts speak up as Hillsborough County Commission considers budget cuts 07/15/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 15, 2010 11:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Mother's testimony about toddler's death brings judge to tears

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Nayashia Williams woke up early on May 7, 2014, to the sound of her daughter calling for her. It was the last time the young mother's mornings would begin with a summons from Myla Presley, who couldn't yet climb over the mesh fencing around the playpen she used as a bed.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing the 19 month-old daughter of his girlfriend in 2014. He said the child fell while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  2. Speakers: Getting tough can't be only response to teen car thefts

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Dillinger remembers coming to Pinellas County as a legal intern in 1975. There were five major poverty zones in St. Petersburg.

  3. Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility and spousal abuse

    Politics

    White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Donald Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter told the …

  4. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.