TAMPA — There is a relatively small amount of money, about $1 million, for transit projects in the 10-year, $812 million transportation plan that Hillsborough County commissioners discussed Wednesday.
Yet transit dominated most of the two-hour conversation.
There are two transit-related items in the spending package: $750,000 for a study of a proposed ferry connecting MacDill Air Force Base to south county and $350,000 for a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority pilot program for on-demand car service to and from bus stops....
TAMPA — The Tampa Sports Authority is still considering whether it will fumigate Babe Zaharias Golf Course with a controversial pesticide but it's running out of time and options.
That's the message Forest Hills residents heard Tuesday night from sports authority leaders as they once again grapple with the same issues that sparked protest here over the use of the pesticide Curfew eight years ago....
02/18/17 Human Interest
TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist warned recently that local officials need to step in — and fast — to save the historic Jackson Rooming House.
Crist suggested the county should acquire the century-old Tampa landmark, which once housed black entertainers including Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald when they came to town, to salvage what it can of the aging building before it's too late....
TAMPA — Hillsborough County won't allow industrial companies to dump more lead into its wastewater system after all.
As for arsenic, that's still up for debate.
County commissioners voted unanimously on Wednesday to keep at existing levels the allowable concentrations of toxic materials in wastewater from industrial facilities, backing away from a proposal to raise the threshold for nine chemicals, including lead....
TAMPA -- Hillsborough County took steps Wednesday to extend paid parental leave for government workers.
Commissioners voted unanimously to have staff review how much paid time off other local governments and businesses offer for employees after they have or adopt a child. Under the county’s existing policy, new parents receive one week of paid leave but after must use vacation time or can take up to 12 weeks off without pay....
TAMPA — A Hillsborough County commissioner wants to follow the lead of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and offer paid parental leave for county employees, too.
Commissioner Sandy Murman said providing the benefit to the county's government workers would help attract and retain talent while investing in local families.
"If we're going to be the best place to live, work and play then we have to put our policies behind that statement," Murman said. "If we're doing all this economic development and marketing and attracting tourists coming here, we want to show our best side and show them our government is modern."...
TAMPA — When infestations from a parasitic roundworm ravaged two golf courses last year, the Tampa Sports Authority turned to a familiar but controversial cure.
It's called Curfew, a soil treatment made by Dow AgroSciences.
It was the first time the TSA had used the pesticide since 2008, when its deployment at the Babe Zaharias Golf Course generated public outcry and accusations the chemical made a nearby resident sick....
02/09/17 Mass Transit
TAMPA — There would be no hard feelings if Hillsborough County decided to turn down federal money for a ferry connecting MacDill Air Force Base to south county and go it alone, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor said.
Still, Castor told the Tampa Bay Times she is "very frustrated" that county leaders are only now debating the best path forward to make the ferry a reality. Castor announced the $4.8 million Federal Transit Administration grant in 2014 and the project remains in limbo three years later....
TAMPA — After a lawsuit threat from House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Visit Tampa Bay released records Wednesday that showed the organization gave out $295,000 in bonuses last year, including $66,000 to its top executive.
The disclosure was the first glimpse into financial information that Visit Tampa Bay has long insisted is private, even though the nonprofit organization's budget is largely paid for with Hillsborough County taxes....
TAMPA — Hillsborough County’s tourism marketing firm said Wednesday it has complied with demands from House Speaker Richard Corcoran to release detailed financial information on its operations, though the organization maintains it shouldn't have to.
Hours before a 6 p.m. deadline, Visit Tampa Bay sent Tallahassee hundreds of pages of documents on its operations. The organization, a non-profit hired by the county to market the area to tourists, also made the information available to the Tampa Bay Times, the first time Visit Tampa Bay has publicly disclosed certain details about its operation....
TAMPA — After coming under fire for not meeting House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s demands for financial disclosure, Visit Tampa Bay will provide the Republican leader … something.
Patrick Harrison, chief marketing officer for Visit Tampa Bay, said the agency is planning to comply with a Wednesday deadline to turn over more details, but he wouldn’t say what that will entail....
TAMPA — The embattled Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has in the last six months seen its chairman leave, a commissioner quit and its former executive director investigated for public records violations.
So who in their right mind would want to take on its responsibilities?
Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden, that's who.
Belden has offered to take over the PTC's regulatory duties if the Florida Legislature goes through with plans to dissolve the agency and put the county in charge of regulating for-hire vehicles, he told the Tampa Bay Times....
02/03/17 State Roundup
TAMPA — Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran on Friday threatened to subpoena and even sue Hillsborough County's tourism marketing firm if the organization doesn't turn over detailed financial information related to its operations.
Last month, Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, requested from 13 local tourist development councils their fiscal year 2016 revenue and expense reports. In addition to advertising expenses and economic development projects, the demands included a list of employees and their salaries and every expenditure on food and travel down to the penny, according to a copy of the letter sent to localities obtained by the Tampa Bay Times....
02/03/17 Human Interest
BRANDON — Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White defended his work on a local chamber of commerce against allegations it presented a conflict of interest.
White said he didn't need to recuse himself from voting on whether to widen Lithia Pinecrest Road just because he's a board member for the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce.
The Brandon Chamber supports the widening....
TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White said Thursday he is “deeply opposed” to designating the county as a sanctuary for immigrants.
The declaration, made in a memo to his colleagues, comes a day after the county’s Diversity Advisory Council voted to recommend that Hillsborough considers becoming a so-called “sanctuary county.”
White said as board chairman he “does not intend to bring this issue before the board for discussion,” though he noted other commissioners have the authority to place it on a commission meeting agenda if they wish....