Kevin Beckner’s leadership on the County Commission and his attention to detail brought results for Hillsborough residents.
- During his first BOCC meeting, Kevin blocked the transfer of over $2 million of taxpayers’ money from former Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson for illegal funding purposes.
- As one of the first budget cuts at the beginning of the economic recession, Kevin introduced a policy that cut his own and other commissioner’s pay by 4%.
SENIOR PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS (DECEMBER 2012)
Beginning in 2014, seniors who are 65 or older, live in their permanent residence, and have income that does not exceed statutory income limitations, became eligible for a $50,000 property tax exemption. Other seniors 65 or older who have lived in their homes for at least 25 years and whose income does not exceed statutory income limitations also became eligible for an exemption equal to the assessed value of the property as long as it is less than $250,000. Most seniors living on a fixed monthly income benefit from one, if not both, of these tax savers.
READY4WORK (NOVEMBER 2013)
Ready4Work is a nationally recognized data-driven reentry program that reduces crime and breaks the cycle of incarceration for children and families through job and economic development. Abe Brown Ministries requested $350,000 to replicate this national program to successfully transition individuals back to the community. Clients (ex-offenders who have not committed a violent or sexual crime and have completed a background screening) attend a 4-6 week career development training course and are paired with a case manager to provide guidance and support. Comm. Beckner introduced the concept to the BOCC, which approved the funding request. As a result, Abe Brown Ministries became eligible for state matching grant funds, and has led ex-offenders into the community, the workforce, and more productive lives.
CAPITAL ASSET PRESERVATION (OCTOBER 2015)
Conceived by Comm. Beckner, the BOCC adopted the Capital Asset Preservation Matching Grant Program, designed to promote economic development by preserving community assets that enhance tourism, arts and culture, entertainment, and education. These awards assist seven organizations (The Aquarium, STRAZ Center for the Performing Arts, Children’s Museum, History Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, Tampa Theatre, and Lowry Park Zoo), with the maintenance and expansion of facilities. Each organization is eligible for 1:1 match funding of up to $325,000 per year based on an annual application process that is reviewed by County staff and approved by the BOCC. This policy increases transparency about how taxpayer dollars are spent and it also generates economic growth and development through sound investment in community assets.
WAGE RECOVERY ORDINANCE (OCTOBER 2015)
Wage theft is a practice by some employers to withhold earned salary, overtime, tips or benefits from employees, or to intentionally misclassify an employee as a contractor. Hillsborough County ranked 2nd in the state in documented cases of wage theft. The BOCC voted to support a plan to help victims of wage theft recover lost income, which made the proposed ordinance a law. Commissioner Beckner, the ordinance sponsor, chose best practices from other counties to build a hybrid that also includes protections for self-employed subcontractors and relies on mediation to resolve claims.
CONE RANCH PRESERVATION
Kevin worked with the Environmental Community to protect Cone Ranch from being sold to private developers. On February 17, 2010, he made the motion to transfer Cone Ranch to the Environmental Land Acquisition Protection Program (ELAPP). Cone Ranch (renamed to the Lower Green Swamp Nature Preserve) is now forever protected from private development.
BP OIL SPILL SETTLEMENT (MARCH 2012)
Commissioner Beckner persuaded the BOCC to pursue a claim against BP Oil for monetary damages. While the county didn’t experience direct physical impact of tar or oil-covered birds washing up on its beaches, the Deepwater Horizon oil well gushed uncapped for months in 2010, discouraging tourism and depressing business, resulting in a reduction of County revenue. In late July 2015, the County was awarded $28.5 million, the largest local government award in the state of Florida.
LGBT PRIDE BAN REPEAL (JUNE 2013)
Comm. Beckner led the effort to restore protections for the LGBTQ community and the return of Tampa Pride. The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to repeal a 2005 board policy that bans county government from acknowledging, promoting and participating in gay pride recognition and events.
As a result, Tampa Pride made its comeback in Ybor City on March 28, 2015. More than 20,000 revelers lined 7th Avenue in Ybor City to dance, catch beads and cheer on floats in celebration of the lesbian, gay and transgender community during the first Pride Parade held in Tampa in 13 years.
DIVERSITY ADVISORY COUNCIL (AUGUST 2012)
All full-time or part-time county employees who are married or in a same-sex or opposite sex Domestic Partnership are eligible for group health, dental and vision insurance coverage for their spouse/domestic partner.
DOMESTIC PARTNER BENEFITS (OCTOBER 2014)
The BOCC unanimously approved the establishment of a Domestic Partnership/Hillsborough Health, Education and Life Planning registry which went live on January 15, 2015.
The registry has two tracks:
The Domestic Partnership Registry (DPR) track is for same-sex or opposite-sex couples in a committed relationship who are financially dependent on each other and share a residence. Registered Domestic Partners residing in Hillsborough County have the following rights:
- Healthcare Facility Visitation
- Healthcare Decisions
- Funeral/Burial Decisions
- Correctional Facility Visitation
- Notification of Family Members
- Preneed Guardianship Designation
- Participation in a Child’s Education
Using the H.E.L.P. track, a person may designate another individual (i.e. relative or acquaintance) as a support person and designate which of the above rights are to be granted to that support person. City of Tampa DPR registrants can transfer their registry to the countywide DPR and participate in the HELP Registry.
HUMAN RIGHTS ORDINANCE (OCTOBER 2014)
Commissioner Beckner fought hard to add sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the County’s existing Human Rights Ordinance. Twenty-five Florida cities, including Tampa, had already approved similar ordinances. The amended Ordinance prohibits discrimination within Hillsborough County on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identification in connection with employment, public accommodations, real estate transactions, and county contracting and procurement. These amendments are consistent with the City of Tampa’s Human Rights Ordinance and provide equal treatment to residents and workers in Hillsborough County.
PAIN MANAGEMENT CLINICS (MAY 2010)
Comm. Kevin Beckner worked with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the County Attorney’s Office to develop an ordinance to protect the health and safety of our citizens by empowering local law enforcement to crack down on illegitimate pill mills. The BOCC voted 7-0 to enact an ordinance requiring the licensing of pain management clinics. Effective June 15, 2010, no pain management clinic can operate in Hillsborough County without first obtaining a pain management clinic license. Penalties for non-compliance include prosecution as a misdemeanor, fines not to exceed $500, and / or imprisonment not to exceed 60 days.
FALLEN HEROES FUND AND MEMORIAL TRIBUTE (JULY 2010)
At the request of Comm. Beckner, the BOCC voted to establish a Fallen Heroes Fund to provide monetary benefits for the support and maintenance of the beneficiaries of specified fallen First Responders who have died while performing their duties to the citizens of Hillsborough County. The amount of monetary benefits paid to the beneficiary or family of a fallen First Responder can be up to $100,000, including funds generated over 90 days from an account created to accept private or outside donations. County funding is provided from an annual General Fund non-departmental appropriation not to exceed one million dollars. An online virtual memorial site http://www.hillsboroughsfallenheroes.org was also established to honor all of the fallen first responders in Hillsborough County.
CIVIL CITATION EXPANSION (MARCH 2011)
Comm. Beckner created the Juvenile Justice Task Force (JJTF) in 2010 (see below), to focus on Civil Citation as a means to better serve the youth and families of our community. JJTF recommended expansion of civil citation countywide to include nine misdemeanor offenses and all county ordinances. First time offending youth committing included offenses (Petit Theft, Criminal Mischief, Affray, Battery, Disruption of a School Function, Trespassing, Disorderly Conduct, and Possession of Alcohol) became eligible for a referral directly to the Administrative Office of the Courts Juvenile Diversion Program “JDP” and could avoid arrest (and an arrest record) by successfully completing the program. Since countywide inception in 2011, over 3,000 youth have successfully completed the program and have been given the opportunity to complete their education, serve their country in the military, or apply for a good-paying job without the permanent black mark of an arrest record. In 2016, a pilot program was launched to include misdemeanor marijuana possession.
PIP ORDINANCE (SEPTEMBER 2011)
The Florida Legislature enacted statutes requiring Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance coverage in an effort to assure that Floridians injured in traffic accidents have ready access to medical treatment. An unintended consequence of these statutes was that they promoted staged auto accidents and fraudulent claims against PIP insurance providers. This fraud cost Floridians millions of dollars in increased insurance premiums as criminals, including suspected organized crime organizations, set up fake PIP medical provider clinics to support fraudulent activities. Due to loopholes in the statutes, these clinics were able to operate without adequate state inspection or regulation. From 2008 to 2010 Hillsborough County experienced an increase of 546% in the number of staged accident questionable claims. Commissioner Beckner worked with local law enforcement, the medical and insurance industry to enact Ordinance 11-13 which empowers local law enforcement to combat the fraud resulting from lax statutes and state regulation.
NARCOTICS OVERDOSE PREVENTION & EDUCATION/N.O.P.E. (APRIL 2012)
A group of community volunteers needed seed money to develop a Hillsborough County Chapter of NOPE. The mission of NOPE is to diminish the frequency and impact of overdoses and death through community education, family support and purposeful advocacy and to combat the illegal use of prescription drugs and narcotics, as well as other abused substances. NOPE received $50,000.00, and since then, achievements to date have been:
- 38,045 children reached at Student Presentations
- 99 total Student Presentations given
- 58 different Middle and High Schools heard our message
- 5,353 students and 10 schools presented to in Project Prevent
- 99 adults reached during Parent Presentations
- Four Parent Presentations delivered since start in 2015
- Five successful Annual Candlelight Vigils
- Received Certificate of Commendation from the Hillsborough County BOCC in 2011
- Chapter President honored as “Lightning
- Community Hero” by The Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation in 2016.
ANIMAL ABUSE REGISTRY ORDINANCE (SEPTEMBER 2016)
Convicted animal abusers are now prohibited from adopting dogs and cats in Hillsborough County. The ordinance requires registration by individuals who have been convicted of certain misdemeanor and/or felony animal abuse offenses. Those persons can no longer adopt, work or live with animals. Pet retailers and shelters must require a prospective adopter to sign an affidavit attesting that he or she is not listed on the Registry. County animal control officers will seize the pet if the law is violated.
VIOLENCE PREVENTION COLLABORATIVE (APRIL 2013)
This violence prevention initiative spearheaded by Comm. Beckner transforms the way local policymakers address violence. The initiative shifts policy from a public safety to a public health model, and aligns community and professional stakeholders to develop a comprehensive prevention and intervention approach. This model instructs us to work together across agencies, communities and jurisdictions to find ways to prevent violence from happening in the first place.
…now known as SAFE&SOUND HILLSBOROUGH, the organization rolled out its strategic plan in August 2014 and presented it to the BOCC in September. The plan focuses on four goals: Supporting the health and well-being of all families; cultivating a connected community; improving conditions in neighborhoods most impacted by violence; and, coordinating efforts to maximize impact.
JUVENILE JUSTICE TASK FORCE (JJTF) (MARCH 2010)
Commissioner Beckner moved for the BOCC to develop a Juvenile Justice Task Force to review and evaluate the structure and related services of Hillsborough County’s Juvenile Justice System. Over the course of nine months, JJTF worked to formulate juvenile justice reforms and recommended expansion of the current school-based civil citation program into a county-wide program and creating a service delivery model. In 2014, the 13th Judicial Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) voted to incorporate the work of the JJTF into its body, and it has recently instituted a pilot project further expanding to include first-time misdemeanor marijuana possession.
YEA! AWARDS (MARCH 2010)
Commissioner Beckner wanted to recognize the many positive contributions made by our youth in areas such as academics, community service, athletics, performing arts, conservation and much more through the Youth Excellence and Achievement (YEA!) Award. The Award honors young people who are making a difference in their community, and it also recognizes young Hillsborough County residents who have displayed initiative, innovation, a commitment to themselves and others, and pursuit of excellence in leadership capacity. YEA! Awards are presented during a regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners to one male and one female in middle and high schools. Categories are:
- Athletic Achievement
- Success Despite Difficult Odds
- Volunteer or Community Service