Hillsborough flags $18 million for parks, museums, roads, charities

Commissioners pick 45 areas to spread discretionary dollars in upcoming budget.
Hillsborough County commissioners divided $18 million among 45 projects Thursday to be included in the upcoming county budget. The county center at 601 E Kennedy Blvd. is shown here.  [Luis Santana | Times]
Hillsborough County commissioners divided $18 million among 45 projects Thursday to be included in the upcoming county budget. The county center at 601 E Kennedy Blvd. is shown here. [Luis Santana | Times]
Published Jul. 28, 2022|Updated Jul. 30, 2022

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Gwen Myers recalled the 1966 Motown hit from The Temptations on Thursday as she sought money for two park projects in her district — “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”

“I’m not begging, but I’m pleading and asking… to see if we can find additional funds in the county’s budget to make these two projects happen,” Myers told the rest of the commission.

Her pitch for an $850,000 water splash pad at Kings Forest Park and $2.35 million in renovations at Progress Village Park came as commissioners considered divvying up more than $18 million in discretionary spending in the proposed 2022-23 county budget.

The so-called flag items from each commissioner totaled more than $21 million without Myers added request. She already had asked for $2.6 million for 19 items including $1.5 million to renovate Kings Forest Park.

Commissioners, however, agreed with her call to find other available money to cover the projects and Commissioner Stacy White suggested park impact fees or federal block grants could be used.

But the board wasn’t as accommodating to commission chairperson Kimberly Overman’s appeal for additional spending on affordable housing.

“This is an opportunity for us to invest in our communities that may be very much in crisis next year,” said Overman, pointing out that federal rental assistance programs tied to the pandemic will be ending in 2023.

The proposed budget from County Administrator Bonnie Wise already included a $10 million allocation for affordable housing. Overman initially sought $7 million more. She lowered her request to $3.8 million, but it still didn’t pass muster with the rest of the commissioners, each of whom could account for about $2.6 million worth of projects.

The discussions were the first public debate on the nearly $8.56 billion budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, which amounts to a 14.4% spending increase financed by rising property values, new construction joining the tax rolls and proceeds from sales taxes.

After tens of millions of dollars in allocations toward public safety and other needs, the commission was left with their own flag items Thursday before giving initial approval to status quo tax rates for the coming year. Final adoption of the budget and tax rates will come after two public hearings in September.

The big ticket items on the flag list included $2.1 million for the South County Greenway Trail, $1.5 million to renovate the Historic 1914 School — now serving as a community center and museum — in Plant City, $1.5 million for the Tampa Museum of Art, $1 million for Cross Creek Park, $740,000 for the Wimauma community plan and $500,000 for the Museum of Science and Industry.

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For print: The full list of flag items can be read at

The full list from each commissioner:

Commissioner Harry Cohen: Artspace Tampa initiative of the Tampa Arts Alliance $50,000; Crisis Center, first-year rent at Ruskin site $20,604; Saint Leo University Catholic-Jewish studies program, $10,000; Tampa Museum of Art, $1.5 million; Veterans Memorial Park entrance, $750,000; and Vision Zero study and road safety assessment for Westshore Boulevard, $50,000.

Commissioner Ken Hagan: Grand Hampton and County Line Road traffic signal, $1.25 million; Cross Creek Park, $1 million; Museum of Photographic Arts pilot project, $125,000; and $25,000 from the tourist development tax for Valspar golf championship.

Commissioner Pat Kemp: Museum of Science and Industry, $500,000; Sweetwater Organic Community Farm land acquisition, $250,000; and implementing the Wimauma Community Plan, $750,000.

Commissioner Gwen Myers: Brothers United Building Brothers Alliance, $50,000; Caribbean American National Development Organization, $50,000; Caribbean Festival, $50,000; Dress for Success, $25,000; Gamma Theta Omega, Inc., $100,000; Harram Temple No. 23 of the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine, Inc., $100,000; King Forest Recreation Center renovation, $1.5 million; Sulphur Springs after-school program, $75,000; MLK Parade Foundation, $25,000; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, $50,000; Project Link, Inc., $50,000; second chance program for felons, $150,000 over two years; STEM Xposure, Inc., $50,000; Tampa Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., $75,000; Tampa Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., $75,000; Tampa Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., $100,000; marker honoring the late Betty Reed, a former state representative, $30,000; United Bikerz sponsorship, $10,000; and Urban League of Hillsborough County, $50,000.

Commission chairperson Kimberly Overman: Commission on Human Trafficking, University of South Florida TIP lab bright scope project, $150,000; Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, nurse case manager, $110,000; Future Career Academy, $500,000; social services case management pilot project, $250,000; and Tampa Bay Arts and Entertainment Network, $100,000.

Commissioner Mariella Smith: South Coast Greenway Trail phase three, $2.1 million.

Commissioner Stacy White: Balm-Boyette Nature Preserve parking lot repair, $100,000; Historic 1914 School in Plant City, $1.5 million; Miracles Outreach, $60,000; mobile pediatric dental service, $300,000; Mosley Homestead (The Nest), $200,000; Pebble Conservation Park pedestrian bridge, $25,000; and United Food Bank of Plant City, $200,000.