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Hillsborough Civil Service passes for now on hiring lobbyist

Published Oct. 30, 2013

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Civil Service will not hire a lobbying firm — for now — to battle prospective legislation that could dramatically alter the program.

Civil Service Board members voted unanimously among those present Tuesday to delay a decision on hiring a lobbyist at least until they can see what the legislation says specifically.

Civil Service fields and screens applications for many local government jobs, serving 21 public agencies. Created by the Legislature, it also establishes job duties and pay ranges and signs off on many transfers and promotions while hearing appeals from employees facing discipline.

Officials including County Administrator Mike Merrill, Tax Collector Doug Belden and Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank are pursuing legislation that would allow them to opt out of all but the disciplinary appeals process. They say many Civil Service rules are inflexible, making it challenging for them to hire people they want for certain jobs and to move them into different roles once on staff, among other complaints.

They made a request Tuesday for an Attorney General's opinion on whether Civil Service has the authority to pay for a lobbyist.