TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners approved a $3.5 billion budget Thursday that includes a small tax rate decrease and sets the stage for a major overhaul of county government in the next two years.
Commissioners balanced the budget in large part through one-time savings enabled by debt restructuring. Interim County Administrator Mike Merrill now will attempt a major remake of his government, merging departments, seeking to consolidate services with other governments and farming out work to private groups.
The board voted 6-0 to approve the 2011 budget. Commissioner Jim Norman left the meeting before the vote.
The spending plan for next year anticipates $73 million less in tax revenue. Departments were asked to make cuts, though public safety was largely spared. Employees won't have to take unpaid furlough days.
Commissioners voted to reduce the overall property tax rate for someone living in the unincorporated area from 10.7614 to 10.7598 mills, an assessment of just under $10.75 for every $1,000 of taxable value.