TAMPA (FOX 13) - A Confederate memorial statue outside the downtown courthouse may not be going anywhere after all. One month after voting to relocate it, county commissioners set a one-month deadline for finding money to move it.
The commission voted 4-2 in July to allow the Florida Daughters of the Confederacy to relocate the monument to the Brandon Family Cemetery. The motion passed largely due to a pledge to use only private funds to move the statue – not taxpayer money.
But private fundraising has failed to come close to raising the remaining $140,000 -- of an estimated $280,000 -- needed to move the statue, and now commissioners have set a deadline. If the money isn’t raised within 30 days, the statue may not be going anywhere.
The decision left Commissioner Les Miller, who had been a driving force behind the movement to take down the monument, visibly disappointed.
"By the motion that was made today and passed, the monument will stay where it is," Miller said, explaining he believes this is a veiled attempt at keeping the statue in place. "Hillsborough County, the progressive county we are, will let a Confederate monument stay while everyone else is taking theirs down. I will be highly surprised if we are able to raise those dollars in 30 days. I don't think we will. I think that monument will stay."
Crist, who was not at the July meeting and proposed the motion Wednesday to use private funds to pay for half the removal costs, believes this was a necessary delay.
"I feel confident the private money will come in," he said. "I believe the statue is going to be moved and I believe it's going to be moved sooner than later. And I believe the private sector is now going to stroke the check for their share of this, which is 50 percent."
The debate over the statue, and others around the country, has elicited passionate arguments on both sides, and it’s become even more heated in the wake of last weekend’s violent rally over a statue in Virginia.
Over the weekend, a Confederate monument in nearby Seffner was vandalized, prompting private citizens to guard the downtown statue. No incidents have been reported there, though.
Last month, the Florida president of the United Daughters of Confederacy told FOX 13 last month she favored moving the monuments away from government property.