Hillsborough County, Florida

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Hillsborough County is one of 67 counties in Florida. Tampa is the county seat.

Hillsborough County's estimated population as of 2010 was 1,229,226.[1] It is one of 20 charter countes in the state. It became a charter county in 1983.[2]

Evaluation of website

Main article: Evaluation of Florida county websites
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Budget
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Permits, zoning
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Transparency grading process


The good

  • Budgets are posted.[3]
  • Meeting schedules are linked off the front page[4] Agendas[5] are also available.
  • County commissioners are listed with contact information.[6]
  • Administrative officials are listed.[7]
  • Building permits[8] and zoning information[9] is available.
  • Financial reports[10] and audits are available.[11]
  • Includes information on the public records law and who to contact.[12]
  • Local tax information is available.[13]

The bad

Elected Officials

The Board of County Commissioners has the authority to pass ordinances and impose penalties for breaking them, to levy and collect taxes, and to perform other such duties that are necessary to maintain the county's daily operations.[15]

Seven county commissioners serve on the Board. Four are elected from single-member districts whereas the other three are selected in county-wide elections. Current council members, as of June 2011:[16][17]

Member Title District Salary
Sandra L. Murman Commissioner District 1 $92,097
Victor D. Crist Commissioner District 2 $92,097
Lesley Miller, Jr. Commissioner District 3 $92,097
Al Higginbotham Chairman District 4 $101,307
Ken Hagan Chaplain District 5 $92,097
Kevin Beckner Commissioner District 6 $92,097
Mark Sharpe Vice Chairman District 7 $92,097

Board meetings are held at 9 a.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Speakers are restricted to three minutes as a general rule. Meetings can be viewed live on Hillsborough Television.[18]

Michael Merrill serves as the County Administrator, who has the executive authority to carry out the Board's decisions, ordinances and procedures.[19]

Commissioner White Corruption Trial

Former Commissioner Kevin White faces corruption charges for allegedly receiving $8,000 in bribes and a 2003 Lincoln Navigator from a towing company in exchange for special treatment. Unbeknownst to White, one of the towing company representatives was an undercover federal agent and the other was an informant. The 10 federal felony counts include bribery, conspiracy and lying to an FBI agent. The incident is the first time that a county commissioner has been arrested since the 1980s, when three commissioners were convicted of selling votes.[20][21]

White was the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a 22-year-old former aide in May 2008. According to the lawsuit, White tried to seduce the aide while on a trip to Atlanta. When she refused, he fired her. A federal civil jury found him guilty of discrimination. In 2007, the Florida Elections Commission fined the now disgraced commissioner $9,500 for purchasing suits and ties with campaign cash.[22][23]

This year, White was involved in the controversy surrounding former-County Attorney Renee Lee, who joined White on expensive lunches. Lee resigned after the cost of the luncheons was revealed to the public and the Board.[24][25]

$1,500 bonuses to county employees

County Clerk Pat Frank has given her employees at the Clerk of the Court's office $1,500 bonuses from a $1 million settlement between the state and the federal government. Frank explained her decision by citing recent sacrifices the employees have made since 2008. Salaries were frozen in 2008, followed by layoffs and furlough days in 2009. Despite Commissioner Mark Sharpe's suggestion that she give the money back to taxpayers, Frank stood by her decision, noting that there are no laws restricting the county clerk's use of bonus money.[26]

Lobbying

Main article: Florida government sector lobbying

Hillsborough County pays for services of the lobbying firm Alcade & Fay.[27]

Audits

For Hillsborough County, the county government is limited to performance audits and auditor reports directly to the Board of County Commissioners. All other audits are conducted by the clerk and comptroller.[28]

Public employee salaries

Main article: Hillsborough County employee salaries

External links

References