Hillsborough commission bickers over budget cuts

07/31/07 Mitch E. Perry
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For a few short moments today, supporters of restoring at least some funding for Hillsborough County’s Public Access Channel felt good.

As the Board held a workshop to review budget cuts proposed by County Administrator Pat Bean last week, Commissioner Rose Ferlita argued that it would be unfair to entirely cut funding for the public access channel.

Ferlita proposed restoring half of the funding for Speak Up Tampa Bay, the access channel. The motion passed 4-3.

But Commissioner Al Higgenbotham, who had voted to support the motion, asked for a do-over. Higgenbotham said he had been away for the discussion on the proposal to restore half of the funding.

On the second vote, Commissioner Kevin White also changed his position. The final vote was 5-2 against the motion.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe had previously brought up the issue of incorporating some aspects of public access onto the Government Channel, whose budget is not being cut.

HTV director Tammy Peralta said there was discussion of bringing back a public affairs talk show, similar to Weekly Review, a show that had aired for years previously. But Sharpe said he wanted to allow opportunities for others.

The county also plans to cut all funding for it’s education channel. But a similar proposal to restore half of $519,00 in funding went nowhere.

Instead, the comissioners directed the Government Channel to study possibly incorporating some of the education channel’s programming into that channel.

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