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Officials won't buy advice on spending
The county shoots down a plan to hire a budget consultant.
By DAVID DECAMP, Times Staff Writer
Published January 9, 2008
DADE CITY - Budgets are getting tight. High-priced consultants are giving advice. Would Pasco County pay big bucks to learn how to cut its spending?
No way, the Pasco County Commission decided Tuesday.
County Commissioner Michael Cox wanted to hire a consultant for $100,000 to $200,000 to help Pasco officials set spending priorities based on residents' opinions.
But the idea never got enough steam to make it to a vote after other county commissioners - who were elected to make budget decisions - recoiled.
"I'm totally opposed to this," Commissioner Pat Mulieri said at Tuesday's meeting. "I think it's a harebrained idea."
Cox, who sometimes criticizes the county's use of consultants, admitted it was a tough sell and apologized to the rest of the board that they had been linked to the idea. It had only his name on it, he said.
Cox said he wanted to improve the county's budgeting. He said he wasn't suggesting the county do exactly as neighbor Polk County did, although he modeled the idea after Polk's $285,000 deal for similar work. In fact, county staff had recommended Pasco seek proposals for the task, but even chief assistant county administrator Michele Baker's suggestion of a $20,000 limit on consultant costs failed.
Commissioner Ann Hildebrand said news reports Saturday of Cox's idea spread quickly and residents' responses weren't positive. Their judgment, she said, was "why would the county want to do this?"
A separate effort to cut costs and improve efficiency is going ahead, though. County staffers started it by themselves last fall.
A development agreement should be complete in 60 days that will allow construction of a 15-court tennis complex in Wesley Chapel, County Attorney Robert Sumner said. The county is working with Saddlebrook Resort officials to build the $7.9-million county-owned tennis stadium, but delays in road planning and $215,000 in unanticipated impact fees have slowed progress. The project will be near the massive Wiregrass development.