Saturday, February 24, 2018
News Roundup

Hillsborough Commission rejects Regent's repayment plan

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners took a stern line Wednesday with the Regent, admonishing the Riverview events center's board and threatening legal action.

Skeptical that the Regent needed seven years to repay its $35,000 debt to the county, commissioners demanded to see monthly income statements to determine what payments the center could afford.

"You owe us $35,000. If we're willing to do a payment schedule, it's on our terms. And you know what? If that's not good enough, then we'll see you in court," said Commissioner Victor Crist, prompting a joke from the officials' dais about being "our next Godfather."

A county audit had deemed the disputed $35,000 as misspent, out of $2.5 million given from the county's community investment tax fund. The Regent received nearly $7 million in local, state and federal money for construction.

Commissioners voted unanimously to send a detailed letter requesting financial statements to the Regent's embattled board, known as the Brandon Community Advantage Center. In a 5-2 vote, they decided to look at legal options if the center failed to make good on the payment. Commissioners Ken Hagan and Les Miller voted 'no.'

They also suggested adding interest or assessing bills annually based on the Regent's income.

Every commissioner except Mark Sharpe lashed out at the Regent for the seven-year repayment proposal.

"This is taxpayer money," Commissioner Sandra Murman said. "It's not yours."

Last year's audit of the Regent led the county to acknowledge a lapse in watchfulness of government money. It changed procedures for administering public funds to nonprofits.

The county is trying to recoup the sum on principle, Crist said, needling the Regent's board for its "arrogance." The boardroom applauded.

"I guess you caught me off guard," said the Regent's chair, David Lemar Jr. "I don't really know what to say."

He offered to provide the center's most recent audit. But instead of addressing concerns about financial transparency — a certified public accountant, Lemar refuses to publicize all the center's finances and thinks the $35,000 was appropriately used — he emotionally touted the board's volunteer efforts.

Lemar was disappointed and felt he was treated inappropriately by Crist, he later told the Tampa Bay Times. The Regent's board reached out to every commissioner this year to work out issues but only some responded, Lemar said.

The Regent operates "about break-even," he said. He expressed some reluctance to dip into operating reserves of about $50,000 to erase the debt.

Commissioners asked to revisit the payment at its next meeting on July 18.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443.

Comments
Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

TAMPA — Officials reopened roads near Citrus Park Mall Saturday evening that had been closed in the afternoon for a natural gas leak caused by a car crash, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said. The Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Fi...
Updated: 21 minutes ago

boca ratonState lawmakerencourages Scott to remove sheriffA lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In a letter sent to ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Two airlinescut ties withNRA aftershootings

The National Rifle Association lashed out at corporations rushing to abandon it on Saturday, as companies from United Airlines to Best Western have cut ties with the gun lobby organization.Without context, twin announcements from Delta and United air...
Updated: 1 hour ago

‘Up to States’ to armteachers, Trump tweets

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared Saturday to begin refining his proposals for combatting school violence, tweeting that arming teachers as a deterrent against such often deadly violence — an idea he championed in recent days — is "Up to S...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Security Council demands30-day cease-fire in Syria

Security Council demands30-day cease-fire in Syria

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Saturday demanding a 30-day cease-fire across Syria "without delay" to deliver humanitarian aid to millions and evacuate the critically ill and wounded. U.N. humanitarian ch...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 2 hours ago
Call her more than just a survivor

Call her more than just a survivor

TAMPA — On the quiet morning of Oct. 8, 2011, a 30-ton freight truck ran a stop sign in the small town of Clinton, Conn.It ran over Colleen Kelly Alexander, who was riding a bicycle.The truck's front wheels crushed her, then spit her to the bac...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Police: Male motorcyclist crashed, then the driver was run over by two cars

Police: Male motorcyclist crashed, then the driver was run over by two cars

TAMPA — A male motorcyclist died early Saturday morning on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, the Tampa Police Department said.About 1:35 a.m., the victim rode his motorcycle west on the Courtney Campbell at high speeds, police said. The motorcycle stru...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

TAMPA — Roughly 20 minutes into Saturday morning's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K, reigning champ A.J. Richmond glanced over his left shoulder to former college teammate Jon Mott and flashed a quick hand signal."He was telling me that t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Broward sheriff’s office launches internal investigations amid questions after Parkland massacre

Broward sheriff’s office launches internal investigations amid questions after Parkland massacre

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating allegations that multiple deputies failed to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after the shooting rampage there, adding to the mounting internal probes examin...
Updated: 7 hours ago