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Growth panel mulls substitute candidates

It's a problem other communities wish they had: Too many qualified candidates for a thankless, time-consuming job.

At their meeting Thursday night, Tampa Palms Community Development District supervisors interviewed five candidates who applied to replace board veteran Bob White. White resigned in November.

After a lengthy process, which included endorsements from audience members, the board did not make a decision. Supervisors will take a vote at their Feb. 9 meeting.

CDD chairman Mark Fitzpatrick said the field of candidates is strong. Board members are particularly interested in two applicants with strong financial backgrounds because the new supervisor will be responsible for balancing the taxing district's nearly $3-million budget, he said.

Candidate Curtis Stokes is the vice president of commercial finance at Bank of America in Tampa, and Jon Hershman is a retired stockbroker. Other candidates are former board member Andy Miller, Faircrest resident Darson Bullard and Anthony Mutchler, an attorney with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Fitzpatrick said he and board member Julie Wolfe voted for Hershman, but board members Ed Copeland and Mark Hensleigh voted against him. Later in the meeting, Wolfe moved to bring it to a vote again but was unable to get a second to the motion.

Also at Thursday's meeting, Fitzpatrick said, board members discussed Tampa Palms Area 3 developer Warren Kinsler's desire to leave the CDD. Kinsler also pays a special tax to the Tampa Palms Open Space and Transportation Community Development District.

Kinsler no longer wants to pay double property taxes and his attorneys told the CDD he should no longer be part of the Tampa Palms CDD because of a 5-year-old agreement.

In 1995, Kinsler and the Tampa Palms CDD agreed that the board would relinquish taxing authority and maintenance responsibilities on Area 3 as soon as lawyers could arrange it. That agreement was never carried through. In the meantime, Kinsler paid taxes to the CDD and the Tampa Palms Open Space and Transportation CDD, but only the Tampa Palms Open Space and Transportation CDD maintained the property.

Fitzpatrick said CDD members would like to have Area 3 as part of the tax base, but they are willing to work out an arrangement under which Area 3 is allowed to leave the CDD. He said Kinsler is willing to have his attorneys work with the Tampa Palms CDD attorneys to work out a new or amended agreement. They will present the agreement at a Feb. 9 meeting.

_ Katherine Gazella can be reached at 226-3472 or by e-mail at gazellasptimes.com.

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