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County gives budget initial approval

County commissioners heard from a few members of the public Wednesday before tentatively approving a proposed $2.4-billion budget by a unanimous vote.

The budget slightly reduces the property tax rate imposed by the county, meaning the owner of a $125,000 home with a homestead exemption will pay about $6 less than last year.

Untouched Wednesday night was $1-million the county set aside to help lure the Florida A&M University law school to Tampa. A selection committee has recommended Orlando and Lakeland over Tampa, but the final decision is up to the Board of Regents. Because the board won't decide until November, commissioners decided to leave the $1-million carrot dangling.

"We're going to hold firm and remain optimistic that the board will choose Tampa," said Commissioner Ben Wacksman. "We're not going to do anything that would weaken our strong commitment to the law school."

A final hearing on the proposed 2000-01 budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at the County Center in downtown Tampa.