Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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 or (813) 661-2443.

Hillsborough Commission rejects Regent's repayment plan 06/27/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 11:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The rise and humiliating fall of Chris Cantwell, Charlottesville's star 'fascist'


    The white supremacists, nationalists and far-right trolls who starred in last weekend's violent Charlottesville, Virginia, rallies have suffered no lack of humiliation in the days since.

    White nationalist Chris Cantwell has had quite the week after being featured prominently in an HBO news program on the march in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. [Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post]
  2. MLB umpires wear wristbands to protest 'abusive player behavior'


    Major League Baseball umpires wore white wristbands during games Saturday, protesting "abusive player behavior" after Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler was fined but not suspended for his recent verbal tirade against ump Angel Hernandez.

    Home plate umpire D.J. Rayburn wears a wristband to protest "abusive player behavior" on umpires by players as Rayburn heads to his position to call the first inning of a baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and and the Colorado Rockies late Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Denver. [Associated Press]
  3. Tropical Storm Harvey could regroup but stay clear of Florida


    The remnants of former Tropical Storm Harvey could rebound while two other systems brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are unlikely to develop into severe weather.

    The remnants of former Tropical Storm Harvey could rebound while two other systems brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are unlikely to develop, according to the National Hurricane Center. [National Hurricane Center]
  4. Fatal hit and run closes section of Nebraska Avenue


    TAMPA — Police are investigating a fatal hit and run crash early Sunday morning on Nebraska Avenue.