Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Attorney: Constitution doesn't allow county mayor to veto budget

BRANDON — The amendment that would give a county mayor veto power is unconstitutional, the county attorney told commissioners Thursday.

Even though Hillsborough County voters passed it last month 53 percent to 47 percent, attorney Renee Lee sought the commissioners' permission to go to court in hopes that a judge would throw it out.

But a majority of the commissioners said they would not act against the amendment, fearing they would be seen as doing so simply because they're against having a county mayor.

"It's going to be perceived that we're taking citizens' initiative and as a board striking it down," newly-elected Commissioner Kevin Beckner said. "I don't want to be entangled in that kind of perception."

Commissioners Rose Ferlita, Mark Sharpe and Jim Norman also said they wouldn't vote to take it to court.

But Commissioner Ken Hagan said he didn't understand why they were afraid.

"What part don't we understand?" Hagan said. "It's illegal."

Mary Ann Stiles, an attorney-lobbyist who worked to pass the amendment, said it is legal because a state statute allows for a county mayor with veto power.

But Lee pointed to the part of the amendment that would give the mayor power to veto the county's budget or items within the budget. The procedure for setting the budget are detailed in the state Constitution and don't allow for anyone to have veto power, she said.

"And we can't on the local governing level enact something that's in conflict with the general law," she said.

Right now, the amendment doesn't affect county government because there isn't a county mayor. The proposal to amend the charter and create the post didn't make it to the November ballot.

Lee and County Administrator Pat Bean, who has argued against creating a county mayor post, focused on the language of the amendment, not their opinion about the proposal. It's just worded wrong, they said.

"It's flawed," Bean said.

But that was less of a concern to the commissioners.

"We made it very clear where we stood: That we didn't support the county mayor," Sharpe said. "We'd end up making it look as though we are using another legal maneuver to undo a citizen initiative."

Given the lack of support from the commission for a legal challenge, "it's dead in the water," Lee said.

But that wouldn't stop any residents from filing their own complaint, she added.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Attorney: Constitution doesn't allow county mayor to veto budget 12/11/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 1:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. E Fletcher Avenue may be closed weeks for cavern repairs

    Roads

    Commuters near the University of South Florida will want to find alternate routes with work continuing to repair a "cavern" under E Fletcher Avenue near the Hillsborough River.

     Commuters near the University of South Florida will want to find alternate routes with work continuing to repair a "cavern" under E Fletcher Avenue near the Hillsborough River. [10News WTSP]
  2. Pasco eyes favoring local vendors for county business

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco commissioners want to give a leg up to local businesses bidding on county government contracts.

    "It's an economic driver. We owe it to the folks to keep money here, keep jobs here,'' said Pasco Commissioner Mike Wells Jr. about a proposed local preference purchasing ordinance.
  3. Insurance regulators fret over a spike in auto glass claims

    Banking

    TALLAHASSEE — Three months ago, state regulators weren't tracking a surge in broken auto glass claims, particularly in Tampa Bay.

    The issue has their attention now.

    The Office of Insurance Regulation is taking on assignment of benefits abuse in the 2018 legislative session. Pictured is Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. | [Times file photo]
  4. Rick Baker lowers expectations before St. Pete mayoral primary

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Baker officially lowered expectations in the mayoral race on Tuesday, saying his “battle for the future of the city” against Mayor Rick Kriseman might last until November.

    Baker has consistently led in local polls and fundraising totals this summer. But at a fundraiders …

    Rick Baker addresses supporters on Beach Drive Tuesday
  5. Music producer Kevin Erondu, 31, who grew up in Dade City, rose to prominence after creating the beat to "Swag Surfin'," a 2009 club hit that still inspires viral videos today. [Courtesy of Kevin Erondu]