Hillsborough, Tampa look for savings in consolidation

07/19/07 Chris Geyer
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

The Hillsborough County Commission convened for their first meeting today in more than a month. Commissioners discussed consolidating local services between the county and the city of Tampa.

Property Tax reform in Tallahassee is putting the squeeze on local governments throughout Florida.

So recently, the Hillsborough County Commission and the city of Tampa have been discussing ways to work together to save money.

Although consolidation won’t help with this year’s budget, there is ongoing study and discussion in order to solve some of the problems that are slowing them down. County Administrator Pat Bean said it will take more discussion to iron out a plan.

Along with time constraints, there have been other hurdles between the county and city. County Commissioner Jim Norman expressed his frustration.

“To have consolidation of certain services between cities and counties, you need a willing partner. One of the things I was distressed about was that we were asked not to use that word (consolidation) any longer.”

Commissioner Rose Ferlita expanded on the city’s confusion and distrust of the word.

“The city attorney felt that the word 'consolidation' was kind of a loaded word, that it carried some implication that we’re talking about some kind of consolidated government rather than a joint provision of services for departments.”

Bean told commissioners that her office has been looking at ways to streamline county government with the city.

Norman was optimistic that the two governments can find a way to work together.

“Years before, we did the library system as an example. There are some things we’ve had some really wonderful partnerships with. Let’s start just with one. I’d really like to reach out.”

The Commission plans to continue this discussion when it meets again in two weeks.

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