Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State budget has a lot of nothing for Hillsborough

TAMPA — There should be less anxiety for Hillsborough County government leaders when Gov. Charlie Crist wields his turkey-busting veto pen this year.

Hillsborough netted little more than a few drainage projects in the spending proposal issued Tuesday by a legislative conference committee.

Instead, government officials will grapple with wholesale cuts on top of property tax reductions approved by voters in January.

"I think all of our constituents will be pleased to know we're going to get the same amount of money for mosquito control," Edith Stewart, public affairs officer for Hillsborough County, noted wryly.

The Legislature set aside $2-million to help pay for the work of the year-old Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, although Crist vetoed startup money for the agency last year. The region also will divide $700,000 with South Florida to study possible rail corridors.

Many other local projects appear dead, with those surviving getting less than hoped.

The county Health Department will have to settle for $4.4-million in construction money instead of $7.4-million requested. Ongoing drainage work for the flood-prone Duck Pond area near the University of South Florida was awarded $400,000 instead of $2-million sought.

The $66.2-billion budget is the lowest in four years. It's a reflection of a steep, steady decline in tax collections that have forced deep cuts in education and human services, the two areas of greatest spending. Legislators will debate the budget today and take a final vote before their scheduled adjournment Friday.

The deepest cuts are in human services: reimbursement rates to hospitals and nursing homes, programs for abused and foster children, adoptions and community care. But other areas will feel the pinch as well.

Hillsborough courts will have at least 15 fewer employees when the new fiscal year starts July 1.

Administrators expect to decide which positions will be eliminated by the end of May, Circuit Judge Manuel Menendez said. One area of concern: The circuit got about half of the money needed to pay for its traffic court officers.

"It's not a pretty picture at all," Menendez said.

Also, legislators didn't fund the five new county judge positions requested for Hillsborough by the Florida Supreme Court.

The state Department of Transportation was planning to spend $254-million on roads, buses and airports in Hillsborough County next fiscal year, including $63-million to widen Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. But it may have to delay some projects.

In the new budget, Hillsborough schools are bracing for budget losses of $22-million, which come on top of statewide education cuts already made this year. The funding places the district at budget levels seen in 2006, which is what officials were expecting.

In their initial estimates, Hills­borough school officials anticipate they will have around $147 less per student in state funding.

"There's going to be some difficult decisions that we are going to have to make," Hillsborough school lobbyist Connie Milito said.

Staff writers Steve Bousquet, Melanie Ave, Mike Brassfield, Colleen Jenkins and Letitia Stein contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at varian@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3387.

State budget has a lot of nothing for Hillsborough 04/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2008 1:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Wrestling to return to old Tampa armory — but just for one night

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the first time in decades, wrestling will return to the old Ft. Homer W. Hesterly Armory with a reunion show scheduled for late September.

  2. Wanted: New businesses on Safety Harbor's Main Street

    Local Government

    SAFETY HARBOR — A green grocery store, a hardware store, restaurants, boutiques and multi-use buildings are all wanted downtown, according to discussion at a community redevelopment workshop held last week. And to bring them to the Main Street district, city commissioners, led by Mayor Joe Ayoub, gave City Manager …

  3. John Morgan intends to pressure every Florida politician to fund wage initiative

    Blogs

    John Morgan, the publicity-loving personal injury lawyer/entrepreneur who spearheaded the successful medical marijuana initiative, soon plans to start collecting signatures for a 2020 ballot initiative raising Florida minimum wage. He plans to "spend millions of my own money" on the effort, but he also intends to …

  4. Westbound traffic on Courtney Campbell blocked after crash

    Accidents

    Westbound traffic on the Courtney Campbell Causeway is being diverted following a crash early Thursday morning.

  5. Q&A: A business leader and historian jointly delve into Tampa's waterfront

    Business

    TAMPA — As a native of Tampa, Arthur Savage has always had a passion for his hometown's history. And as a third-generation owner and operator of A.R. Savage & Son, a Tampa-based shipping agency, his affinity for his hometown also extends to its local waterways.

    Arthur Savage (left) and Rodney Kite-Powell, co-authors of "Tampa Bay's Waterfront: Its History and Development," stand for a portrait with the bust of James McKay Sr. in downtown Tampa on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. McKay, who passed away in 1876, was a prominent businessman, among other things, in the Tampa area. He was Arthur Savage's great great grandfather. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]