2 public hearings set on county mayor veto power
Two years ago, Hillsborough County voters approved a referendum bestowing far-reaching veto powers to an elected county mayor, if that position is ever created.
But members of Hillsborough County's charter review board, which is appointed by the county commission, argue that what voters approved was unconstitutional. They want to put another referendum on the ballot in the Nov. 2 election repealing the provision.
Before they do that, however, the board needs to hear from the voters.
So they've scheduled public hearings on June 29 and July 13 to discuss the proposed referendum, which would require at least 10 votes to put it on the ballot.
The charter board's review was prompted by a legal opinion by County Attorney Renee Lee, who said the veto provision violates the state constitution because only the county commission can pass annual budgets and set countywide property tax rates.
In 2008, Hillsborough voters approved the veto amendment by 53 percent. A companion proposal creating the position was knocked off the ballot after a lengthy court challenge.
Tampa lawyer Mary Ann Stiles, chairwoman of the Elected County Mayor Political Committee Inc., says the veto powers provision is constitutional and has called the charter board's review a thinly veiled attempt to derail the county mayor initiative.
Stiles' group is busy gathering the 40,000 signatures required to get the county mayor question on the ballot in the Nov. 2 election.
The referendum would ask voters whether they want to replace the appointed county administrator with an elected county mayor.
At the public hearings, the review board will also discuss a proposal from Hillsborough County Circuit Clerk Pat Frank to eliminate the office of internal auditor, which voters created in the 2002 elections to bring efficiency and cost savings to county departments.
Both hearings begin at 6 p.m. at the Fred B. Karl County Center in Tampa.