Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough commissioners hear pleas to spare programs from budget cuts

TAMPA — Hillsborough County residents turned out in force Tuesday to urge commissioners to protect the most vulnerable in making budget cuts this year.

They pleaded with commissioners to spare a popular after-school program at county parks that families of modest means use as day care. And they asked that the county continue licensing private day care centers or risk endangering children.

They brought pictures of abused animals rescued by county Animal Services workers who are now threatened with losing their jobs. And a man whose daughter was murdered 11 years ago asked the board not to cut a team of county workers who help people like himself deal with tragedy.

"What are you guys thinking?" asked Robert Herman, who has three children who participate in the after-school program at Sadie Park in Brandon. "Something's wrong with y'all."

His beef was specific, but the sentiment could have come from many of the hundreds of people who filled two large rooms at County Center on Tuesday night. Nearly 90 spoke over three hours.

It was the first of four public hearings on County Administrator Pat Bean's budget plan for 2010, which proposes trimming more than $140 million in county spending from this year's $1.1 billion operating budget and eliminating more than 1,100 jobs.

Commissioners took no action, but signaled they are likely to discuss each of the topics raised Tuesday night when they meet for a workshop at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in County Center.

Parks are particularly hard hit in Bean's budget proposal, and the after-school program drew many of those who spoke. Some were children who carried signs asking, "Where will we go?"

"I really like the park," said Lynnaida Rodriguez, 12, who attends an after-school program in Town 'N Country. "I've been going there a really long time, I mean, since I was little."

Bean is looking to save $9 million by cutting the program, which she also proposed last year.

Several in-home day care providers seized on the vulnerability of children to make their case that the county should continue licensing such businesses. Bean followed commissioner guidance to cut areas that other governments also cover.

The state performs some licensing of child care facilities, but does not include nearly 700 in-home business or those affiliated with churches.

"The fat of Hillsborough County should not be quality child care," said Melanie McCune of Lutz.

Others predicted that unlicensed businesses will likely flourish without county oversight, and this would put children at risk.

The state Department of Children and Families "has enough on their plate," said Riverview day care provider Lisa Rodriguez. "They can't handle any more."

A number of residents arrived with photos of neglected animals. They argued that, just as Hillsborough County is making headway in fighting animal abuse, getting pet owners to spay and neuter their animals and reducing the need to euthanize them, Bean is proposing a big step back.

Her budget proposal cuts Animal Services staff by roughly a third over the next two years.

Perhaps the most emotional appeal came from Roy Brown, whose daughter was kidnapped and killed 11 years ago by crabber Willie Crane. He urged commissioners not to get rid of the county's victim assistance program, which helps family members deal with the aftermath of crimes such as that one.

"I wouldn't be here today if it hadn't been for victims' assistance," he said.

Hillsborough commissioners hear pleas to spare programs from budget cuts 06/09/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 9, 2009 11:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.