Hillsborough Administrator: over 600 layoffs expected
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06/03/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

Hillsborough County Administrator Pat Bean called the dire economic conditions the County faces for Fiscal year 2010 a ‘perfect storm’ today. The county may lose between 600 to 700 jobs.

Bean addressed the Commission after a draft proposal on possible budget cuts were leaked this morning to the St. Petersburg Times, a leak that she said angered her.

The Times report said Bean's 12 page list includes nearly $140 million in spending cuts, with very few programs in the County being spared.

Bean was asked directly by Commissioner Kevin Beckner how many jobs are on the line.

Commissioner Beckner said the drastic economic situation is part of the new paradigm challenging governments and businesses in the U.S. in the worst recession since the early 1980’s, if not the 1930’s.

Beckner and other Commissioners said that it was time to revisit again the possibility of consolidating services with other municipalities, which in the County means predominantly working with Tampa, where there has been friction for several years now.

But Commissioner Jim Norman, the longest serving member of the Board, was skeptical about that happening.

And Norman was critical about the excitement for the penny cent sales tax next year to raise money for light rail. He said the County should consider putting measures on the ballot that would save taxpayers, not cost them.

Commissioner AL Higgenbotham said the answer was simple to the problems the County government faces – stop spending so much money.

Commissioner Rose Ferlita, a former Tampa City Councilmember, said it’s time for officials from County and City of Tampa to bury the hatchet and work together on sharing certain services in order to save money.

Ultimately, Commissioner Mark Sharpe proposed that Administrator Pat Bean meet with the County’s Tax Collector Doug Belder and other Elected officials and with officials from Tampa and other municipalities, to try to come up with solutions to the huge budget deficit.

There will be meetings throughout the summer on the budget – with the Commission voting on it in September.

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