Hillsborough wants Tax Watch to review county spending

01/03/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The Hillsborough County Commission today voted 6-1 to have Florida Tax Watch conduct a study to determine how to bring about cost-saving measures and practices to the county.

The measure was sponsored by Commissioner Brian Blair. Commissioner Jim Norman seconded the proposal, but said he hoped it would be different than a previously performed study from Florida Tax Watch done nearly a decade ago.

Blair said Tax Watch would provide the study for free, but Commissioner Rose Ferlita questioned that. Ferlita said Tax Watch does good work on state issues, but isn’t as well regarded when it comes to municipal governments.

County Administrator Pat Bean said Tax Watch has only done two local studies – one being for Hillsborough in the late 90s, the other for Palm Beach County. Palm Beach decided not to accept any of their recommendations, Bean said.

Ferlita said the 1997 study was funded by private dollars – but some $200,000 came from GOP concrete magnate Ralph Hughes.

Blair bristled at suggestions that the report would cost the county.

Commission Chair Ken Hagen also supported the idea of the study, saying that property tax reform has redefined how local governments operate.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe echoed Hagen’s comments that the county will have to learn to do more with less.

The Commission voted 6-1 to approve of Florida Tax Watch conducting the review. Commissioner Rose Ferlita was the lone dissenter.

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