A look at government action from around the Gulf Coast
Sharpe: more fees, more growth
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY — County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who supported raising impact fees for schools, has higher fees on his mind. In answer to a question at the Aug. 21 Tiger Bay Club of Tampa meeting about fees versus increasing the property tax rate, Sharpe says, “The Legislature needs to look at how we assess property,” then adding, “At some point you have to raise your fees.” Earlier, Sharpe, who holds the District 7 at-large seat, told the 70 or so in attendance that he wants more growth, saying, “We've got to bring it in.”
Lawmakers get plum chairs
TALLAHASSEE — Gulf Coast legislators were rewarded with key committee and council assignments when House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, named committee and council chairs and restructured the organizational setup of councils and committees this past week.
In doing so, the Speaker left four committees vacant to better align itself with the Senate structure, and merged others. Bills that would have been sent to these committees will be referred to similarly charged appropriations or policy committees.
Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, will return to chair both the Rules and Calendar Council and the Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact Review, and will also now chair the Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Negotiations involving the Seminole Tribe, Galvano and Gov. Charlie Crist were ongoing this past week to meet an Aug. 31 deadline. Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, remains Speaker pro-tempore.
Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, will chair the Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee, Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa, will chair the Public Safety and Domestic Security Policy Committee, and Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, will chair the Roads, Bridges and Ports Policy Committee.
Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, will chair the Education Policy Council, Faye Culp, R-Tampa, chairs the Government Accountability Act Council and the Joint Legislative Sunset Committee, Ed Homan will chair the Health and
Family Services Policy Council, and John Legg, R-Port Richey was appointed to chair the PreK-12 Policy Committee.
WellCare contributions admitted
FLORIDA — According to an Aug. 19 Florida Elections Commission consent order, WellCare Health Plan, who initiated the investigation itself, made illegal campaign contributions through subsidiaries totaling $64,500 out of just over $1 million contributed to dozens of state officials.
State Attorney General Bill McCollum, also a candidate for governor, received contributions as did attorney general candidate, Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, and other Senate and House members.
The $64,500 came from 129 contributions from four WellCare subsidiaries from 2003-2007 that “lacked a source of revenue independent of affiliate transfers or cash balances, which appeared sufficient to fund their political contributions,” according to the consent order. Thirteen contributions exceeded the legal limit. There is no indication that recipients were aware that the contributions were illegal.
WellCare, which agreed to pay $120,000 in civil penalties, operates managed care health plans for participants in Medicare, Medicaid, and other publicly supported health programs with 400,000 of its 2.5 million members being in Florida.
The transportation task force will meet at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31 in the conference room on the 26th floor of the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., in downtown Tampa. The task force was created by the County Commission to provide recommendations to improve transportation in the county. Commissioner Ken Hagan is chair of the task force. For additional information, contact Lucia Garsys at (813) 272-6214 or go to www.hillsboroughcounty.org/transtaskforce.
Hillsborough County's Planning and Growth Management Department is holding a bi-annual public meeting to discuss the second round of proposed amendments to the Land Development Code for 2009. The meeting is from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1 in the conference room on the 26th floor of the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.
The amendments include proposed regulations for a cottage housing district, minimum densities, additional open space, recreational use, minor subdivision and several others. There is also a privately-initiated amendment proposing changes to the conservation subdivision regulations. These amendments are scheduled to be considered for approval by the county commission this fall. County staff will be at the meeting to provide information and receive input.
For a complete list of the amendments and background information, visit the County's agenda webpage, and select the “Agenda for the Aug. 12 LDC Text Amendments Workshop.” For more information, contact Joe Moreda, Planning Growth Management, at (813) 276-8379 or [email protected].
The County Commission will hold a budget workshop at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1 at Pasco Hernando Community College, East Campus, 36727 Blanton Road, Dade City.
The County Commission will conduct their first budget hearing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8 in the 5th Floor Assembly Room, Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Clearwater. For more information call (727) 464-3485.
The County Commission will hold a budget hearing at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at 2120 Main St., Fort Myers.
The City Council is holding a preliminary budget hearing from 5:15-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, Council Chambers, City Hall, 2200 Second St., Fort Myers.
The Bayshore Municipal Service Taxing Unit and Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will meet at 4 p.m. on Sept. 1 at the Bayshore Gateways Triangle CRA office, 4069 Bayshore Drive, Naples. For more information call (239) 643-1115.
The Environmental Advisory Council will hold a public meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2, in the County Commission chambers, located on the third floor of the W. Harmon Turner Building, Building F, Collier County Government Center, 3301 E. Tamiami Trail, Naples. For more information, call Summer Araque at (239) 252-6290.
The Development Services Advisory Committee meets to discuss Land Development Code Amendments from 1-5 p.m. Sept. 2 in the CDES Conference Room 610, 2800 N. Horseshoe Drive, Naples.