Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation Meeting – Preview (Part II)

Unlinke the six bills listed in Part I, the remaining bills will be controversial.

Local Bill 03 – Tampa Sports Authority

The Tampa Sports Authority is responsible for the operations of three public golf courses and Raymond James Stadium. This bill will change the composition of the governing board. Currently, the board consists of 11 members: four residents of the City of Tampa appointed by the Mayor and City Council, four resident of unincorporated Hillsborough County appointed by the County Commission, one resident of Hillsborough County appointed by the Governor, one member of the Tampa City Council, and one member of the Hillsborough County Commission. The Councilman and Commissioner serve as ex-officio members, and do not have a vote.

The TSA passes its annual property tax bills to the City and County, with the County paying 2/3rds and the City paying 1/3rd. However, the City and County each have 1/2 of the governing board. This means county taxpayers do not have a pro-rata voice on the operations of the TSA.

When the Authority was created in 1965, the population of the City was about 2/3rds of the total county population. Now the population of the City is about 1/3rd of the total county population. Thus, the current system for paying the TSA property tax bills.

This bill will change the board, giving unincorporated Hillsborough County residents greater representation, reflecting the population shift and financial commitment. The new board would add one Hillsborough County Commissioner and reduce one City of Tampa appointed resident. This shifts the County representation from 5 to 6, and the City representation from 5 to 4.

Local Bill 04 – Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission

The Commission is responsible for long-range planning for the entire county.

Similar to Local Bill 03, this bill will change the governing board for the Commission. The current board is composed of ten members: four appointed by the Hillsborough County Commission, four appointed by the City of Tampa, one each appointed by Plant City and Temple Terrace. Hillsborough County taxpayers pay 100% of the operation costs of the Planning Commission.

The bill will add a member appointed by the Hillsborough County Commission, raising the total to 11, and shifting the County share from 4 to 6, while reducing the City of Tampa membership from 4 to 3.

Several former Chairpersons of the Commission wrote a guest column in the Tampa Tribune a few weeks ago outlining their problems with the bill. While they make a decent argument, I can’t say that I agree with their conclusion.

There is an amendment filed to this bill that would leave the City of Tampa with four appointments and only add an 11th member appointed by Hillsborough County. This is an attempt to mollify some of the opposition from the City of Tampa.

Controversy

Now here is where it gets interesting. The rules of the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation say that a local bill must receive both a majority vote of the Representatives and a majority vote of the Senators on the delegation. There are 12 Representatives (3 Democrats and 9 Republicans) and 4 Senators (2 Democrats and 2 Republicans). I am willing to bet that a majority of the Representatives will vote for the bills; however the Senators are going to be the key.

First, Senator Ronda Storms (R) will probably support the bills, as she represents an unincorporated district and is a former County Commissioner. Senator Victor Crist (R) will also probably support the bills, as most of his district is outside the City limits. Senators Arthenia Joyner (D) and Charlie Justice (D) are the keys to the passage of these bills – one of them has to vote for the bills for them to pass.

As noted, the City of Tampa opposes both of these bills, for obvious reasons — it reduces their influence on these governing boards. Now, the Mayor and a majority of the City Council are Democrats (even though they are non-partisan elections). The question is, how hard has the City lobbied Senators Joyner and Justice to block the bills.

This will be the interesting part of the meeting.

I will recap the meeting later today.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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