Recommendations on Hillsborough, Plant City charter issues

Published Oct. 9, 2012

Hillsborough County voters face two charter questions on the Nov. 6 ballot and Plant City voters face one.

Hillsborough County's charter includes a provision barring the county from discriminating against any person on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin or physical handicap. This would change the term "physical handicap" to "disability." This is a housekeeping matter aimed at updating the charter language and making it consistent with state and federal law. The Tampa Bay Times recommends a yes vote.

Another Hillsborough charter question is not the good-government measure supporters claim. It calls on the county to write a financial impact statement for all proposed charter changes and referenda. This is a back-door way to misinform the public and sabotage important decisions that may carry a price tag.

There is nothing wrong with estimating the financial impact of ballot questions, such as a tax for roads, schools and other major construction projects. But the county does this already. This measure would have the county budget director estimate the two-year increase or decrease in revenue from any proposed referendum, and that price tag would be placed on the ballot, too. But there is nothing meaningful about the two-year window. It casts a one-dimensional view on the full public benefit of any major investment or new policy direction. It also lets county commissioners politically influence the cost estimates and create more confusion. The Tampa Bay Times recommends a no vote.

In Plant City, there are five elected city commissioners. Each serves a three-year term. Under the city charter, a special election is held to fill any vacancy. This measure would allow the city commission to appoint someone to fill a vacancy if there is less than 15 months remaining in the unexpired term. This proposal is a reasonable change that could save Plant City taxpayers the cost of a special election. The Tampa Bay Times recommends a yes vote.