Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Tax Hike Audit Battle - Vinik vs Schools - Who Is On First?

As we previously reported, OPPAGA has begun their performance audit for the Vinik massive transit tax hike. There remains questions about how the Vinik audit jumped in front of the audit requested by Hillsborough County School Board who also wanted to put a referendum on the November ballot.

It is our understanding that OPPAGA audits are conducted first come first serve. 

Rumblings were that someone from Vinik's All For Transportation (AFT) PAC, funded by Vinik and four of his downtown allies connected to him who dumped $750K into his PAC, approached the school board last month in a face to face meeting with no paper trail. If those rumblings are correct, did Vinik's PAC for a massive unnecessary 30 year tax hike arrogantly want to jump in front of the school board's request for their audit?

Are voters and taxpayers in Hillsborough County beginning to ask some questions? The Eye received a copy of an email thread sent by a concerned citizen to the school board.
From: Gretchen Saunders <>
Sent: Wednesday, August 8, 2018 4:36 AM
To:; summers.david@oppaga.fl.usCc: Jeff Eakins; Christopher Farkas;; jg@macfar.comSubject: Fwd(2): To Jeff Eakins Re: Charlotte Greenbarg - 180807-14991 
Good Morning Ms. Janet.

We received an email request from a community member last night regarding the Voter Referendum/OPPAGA review.

Do you have time for a quick call today? Would like to work with you and the OPPAGA team regarding our response to the question below about Hillsborough County receiving preference over Hillsborough County Public Schools and the "Way of Work" for the upcoming referendum and district audit/review.

Thank you for your help and continued support.

Gretchen Saunders
Chief Business Officer
Hillsborough County Public Schools
Telephone: 813-272-4383
Fax: 813-272-4007

----- Original Message -----

Got this through the clearinghouse tonight. I think this should be forwarded to our contacts at OPPAGA to make them aware that these questions and concerns are coming from the community.

----- Original Message -----

HCPS Web Site Contact Form
Type: Contact Superintendent's Office
Staff Member: JeffEakins
Topic: Other
TopicOther: OPPAGA's doing the county audit first
How did the county get preference over the Board's proposal for .5% sales tax increase? 
The FloridaLegislature
R.Philip Twogood, Coordinator
August 3, 2018 
Michael Merrill, CountyAdministrator
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners
601 EastKennedy BoulevardTampa, Florida 33602

Dear Mr. Merrill:

Pursuant to the requirements of Ch. 2018-118, Laws of Florida, the Office of Program PolicyAnalysis and Government Accountability has selected McConnell & JonesLLP to conduct a performance audit of the programs associated with the surtax proposed for Hillsborough County.

McConnell & Jones will begin work on August 6, 2018. Representatives from McConnell & Jones will contact your office in the near future to discuss protocols for the performance audit.

If you have any questions, please call Emily Leventhal, OPPAGA’s Government Operations Staff Director and the contract manager for this audit, at (850) 717-0525.


R. Philip Twogood CoordinatorRPT/kgAttachment
cc: Christine Beck, County Attorney forHillsborough County
Sharon Murphy, Partner, McConnell & Jones, LLP

From: Charlotte Greenbarg
It appears OPPAGA began their audit for Vinik's massive tax hike before the SOE has even certified the petition effort.

Remember the school board stated they were told it could take 6-8 months to complete their audit for a program that appears much less complex than Vinik's $15-18 BILLION tax hike for multiple programs spread across multiple entities.

With school starting earlier this year in hot humid August, this Times article lists the over $343 MILLION in air conditioning needs of schools in Hillsborough County over the next few years. And that's just the air conditioning needs…..

While schools need air-conditioning and other capital improvements, Vinik pursues unnecessary billions for costly trains to a billion dollar baseball stadium. 

We will pursue getting a copy of the school board's response after they speak with OPPAGA today. 

But the battle for massive tax hikes in Hillsborough County may turn into an outright war.

And much of the blame goes directly to Jeff Vinik.

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