TAMPA, Florida -- Hillsborough County commissioners cracked down Wednesday on a lavish, taxpayer funded community center that some say excludes members of the public without deep pockets.
The Regent and its Brandon Community Advantage Center Board of Directors received $7 million in taxpayer funds. But in the agreement reached Wednesday, $35,000 of that will be paid back to the county.
In addition, two county commissioners will sit on the board, forcing its meetings to be public.
With the deal, the facility must also hold at least one free community event each month.
During the meeting, commissioners scolded board chairman David Lemar saying the facility needs to be more accessible to the public.
"This is not going away until your business model changes," said commissioner Sandy Murman.
Lemar, after initially refusing to answer questions from 10 News, eventually started talking. He disagreed with commissioners and their idea that they need to change the way they do business.
"It provides a large facility out there for the use of the community. Is there a charge to use the facility? Yes there's a charge," Lemar said.
He tells 10 News renting a room costs at least $100 per hour. That's one of the reasons some community members don't feel welcome, even after Wednesday's agreement.
"The bottom line is we don't have a community center that we were promised and we never will," said taxpayer George Niemann.
Under the agreement, the facility's board must pay the county back by the end of 2013 and they will be charged interest.