Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa City Council opts not to hire its own budget analyst

TAMPA — The City Council on Thursday decided this is not the time to hire its own budget analyst to help keep an eye on Mayor Bob Buckhorn's administration.

With a $15 million to $20 million revenue shortfall looming for next year's budget, a majority of the council treated the idea as a luxury the city cannot afford — at least, not now.

Instead, several said, any available funds for new positions should go to departments such as parks or code enforcement.

"They're the ones that need new positions, not this council," said council member Frank Reddick.

"If we can keep a pool open for an extra weekend day, to me that would be the place that I would be looking to spend money," council member Harry Cohen said.

The council has had an analyst in the past, and Yvonne Yolie Capin proposed to bring back the position as a way to root out inefficiency, save money and help the council ask more informed questions.

"It is needed," Capin said. "This is not critical of the administration. This is about our work here."

But Capin's motion to consider contracting an outside accountant to serve as an analyst failed 5 to 2.

The only other council member to vote for the proposal was Mary Mulhern, who said the city's $804 million budget is so big and complex that it's hard — if not impossible — for individual council members to monitor and know everything about city spending. A budget analyst could find savings that would pay for the position, she said.

"Our job is to be a check and balance on the administration; we're it," she said. "I feel like it's an abdication of our responsibility not to do this."

Other council members, however, said the council already has a citizens advisory committee that scrutinizes the budget, and the city has an internal audit department that delves deeply into city operations in search of waste and fraud.

"If we have an issue or we have something that we are concerned about there's nothing stopping us from asking the audit department to take a look," council member Lisa Montelione said.

Attorney Tony DeSisto, a member of the citizens advisory committee on the budget, said the committee has not taken a position on the idea, but he described administration officials as being "nothing but forthcoming and transparent."

"All the information, we've sought, they've provided," he said.

DeSisto also noted that the city and county are jointly implementing the $34.2 million Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software program, which will support administrative functions like budgeting, accounting, purchasing and human resources. The ERP is meant to replace outdated and glitchy information systems, save money and take advantage of economies of scale. If successful, city officials have said, the city-county partnership would be the second of its kind in the nation.

Once the ERP is in place, DeSisto said, the city may have better information on whether a council budget analyst would be useful.

Earlier this week, Buckhorn said the position is not necessary. He recalled that years ago he and current council chairman Charlie Miranda voted to eliminate the position when they both served on the council because there wasn't enough work to keep the analyst busy.

"There was barely a day's worth of work in a week," Buckhorn said. The mayor said he's trying to avoid layoffs in the budget he'll propose this summer. He also said "we bend over backwards" to give the council the information it needs, so "I don't know how you could justify it, given the amount of work involved."

Richard Danielson can be reached at (813) 226-3403,

Tampa City Council opts not to hire its own budget analyst 05/23/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 23, 2013 11:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Hard Knocks' effect: Jameis Winston jersey sales surging


    Two weeks into the national publicity of HBO's "Hard Knocks," Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's No. 3 jerseys are selling well, as he made the biggest leap in this week's jersey report from Dick's Sporting Goods.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's No. 3 jerseys are selling well. [Getty Images]
  2. Top 5 at noon: Southern Heritage group draw fire; video shows Tampa's transformation; and more


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on

    Strategic Property Partners is working with more than a dozen architectural and design firms on the $3 billion Water Street Tampa project. [Photo courtesy of SPP]
  3. Pinellas receives two charter school applications


    Following a two-year dry spell, the Pinellas County school district has received two new applications to open charter schools in St. Petersburg.

    Windsor Preparatory Academy in St. Petersburg could be home to Pinellas Academy of Math and Science's St. Petersburg campus. The Pinellas County school district received a charter school application from that school's leadership this fall to open in 2018.
  4. Southern Heritage group draws fire for posting personal information of Confederate statue opponents


    TAMPA — Curtiss Wilson is an 89-year-old Tampa resident who fought in the civil rights movement.

    Charled "Fred" Hearns, an expert on local African-American history, is listed in the Save Southern Heritage Florida report as a "resentful black man." Hearns, 68, said he is resentful: "I resent racism and symbols of hatred." [Times files]
  5. Gen. Votel interview: 'A bit of a stalemate' in Afghanistan, but a chance to optimize gains there


    In developing the plan for the war in Afghanistan that he announced Monday night, President Donald Trump consulted with advisers including his military leaders through their chain of command.