Make us your home page

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

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

  1. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois


    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.

  2. What to watch this weekend: 'GLOW,' second season of 'Preacher'


    Ready to rumble: GLOW

    Four words: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Yes, the fluorescent, body-slamming soap opera GLOW starring a cast of exaggerated characters is back, this time as a fictionalized Netflix series. Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men) stars as Ruth, a down-on-her-luck actor …

    Alison Brie, left, and Betty Gilpin in GLOW on Netflix.
  3. Exploratory Lab Boot Camp provides real-life technology training to students


    CLEARWATER — At this graduation ceremony featuring some of the brightest local minds in tech, it was the youngsters who stood out.

    Laszlo Leedy, 17, a senior at Shorecrest Prep, presents part of his team's project for SPC's Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. Students presented their ideas at the end of the SPC Exploratory Lab Boot Camp. The program provides real-time business training to students. This year's graduation celebrated 15 students that finished the program. 
[JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. Editorial: Trump, not military, should set troop levels in Afghanistan


    There is no task more solemn for any American president than the decision to send troops off to war. In delegating authority over troops levels in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, President Donald Trump has shirked his obligation to own and defend his Afghan policy, while further divorcing America's military strategy there …

  5. North Korea says it's 'biggest victim' in U.S. student's death (w/video)


    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Friday called itself the "biggest victim" in the death of an American student who was detained for more than a year and died days after being released in a coma.

    Mourners line the street after the funeral of Otto Warmbier, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Wyoming, Ohio. Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years in prison with hard labor in North Korea, died this week, days after returning to the United States. [Associated Press]