By LOIS KINDLE | The Tampa Tribune

Commissioner Murman with Commissioner Ken Hagan and Hillsborough County Hispanic Liaison Tony Morejon.

Published: July 27, 2011

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The parking lot of the VFW post was filled to capacity and vehicles spilled onto the shoulder of U.S 41 at the newly formed SouthShore Chamber of Commerce’s first Business After Hours July 20.

Executive Director Melanie Morrison said she was ecstatic about the size of the crowd.

“What a fabulous turnout,” she said, surveying the room. Everyone is networking, meeting lots of new people. The enthusiasm in the room is contagious.”

Melanie Morrison, executive director of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, left, greets Connie Lesko of Freedom Plaza.

Melanie Morrison, executive director of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, left, greets Connie Lesko of Freedom Plaza.

Part of the agenda included the announcement of the 2011-12 honorary mayor of Apollo Beach: Molly Maxwell-Edmunds of Universal Power Solutions. She and opponent Georgia Thomas of Victoria’s 5th Avenue Salon raised $22,000, $10,000 more than last year’s total.

Members of Southshore Chamber of Commerce

“We had two superb candidates who poured their hearts and souls into their campaigns,” said Ron Seagren, who served as vice president for the Apollo Beach chamber before it merged recently with the Ruskin-SouthShore chamber to become the new SouthShore chamber. “They did an excellent job and received lots of support from the community. Their campaigns were spirited and very successful.

Both women will donate half their proceeds to their charities of choice, and the remainder went to the Apollo Beach chamber.

Our Budget Priorities

Commissioner Murman was quoted in this Times article on budget priorities:

Hillsborough commissioners discuss budget priorities

By Tia Mitchell, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Jun 09, 2011 07:11 PM

TAMPA — Hillsborough County’s transportation and infrastructure continues to lag far behind its resources, forcing leaders Thursday to discuss ways to prioritize projects and spending in the coming fiscal year.

The community investment tax, used to fund a large chunk of the county’s capital projects, is generating much less money than was projected. Income during the 2011 fiscal year was initially expected to be around $135 million. It came in at just $90 million.

“The CIT has pretty much been our sole source of funding,” said county administrator Mike Merrill. “We kind of put all our eggs in one basket.”

Proceeds from the CIT are split among the school system, the county and its cities. The county expects to receive about $1 billion through fiscal year 2027, but more than $600 million is owed on existing debt.

That leaves about $355 million for everything else, with the county on the hook for projects totalling $482 million.

County commissioners discussed other funding sources, including additional tolls, community development areas and tax increment districts, at Thursday’s budget hearing. Commissioners also said they wanted to re-create a task force that would unite various government and planning agencies, such as HART, the Planning Commission, Expressway Authority and Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Commissioner Sandra Murman said it was “ridiculous” that only 3 percent of the county’s budget goes toward transportation. She advocated for a “transportation czar” that would lead the discussion.

“Something so important is getting so little attention,” she said.

During discussion on parks spending, Murman lobbied for the redirection of $1.5 million budgeted for skateboard parks in Apollo Beach, Brandon and a yet-to-be-determined northwest location. They didn’t seem like a good use of money during such tough times, she said.

Apollo Beach residents have even asked for a trade, Murman said, saying they would rather cut the skateboard park instead of after-school programs.

Merrill told her the parks were funded by impact fees, and that money can only be used for certain projects. But he said county officials will come back to the commission with alternative options for the money.

Tia Mitchell can be reached at or (813) 226-3405.


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