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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Susan Latvala hammers Beverley Billiris with annexation mailing



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A recent mailing by Republican Susan Latvala, seeking re-election to the County Commission, leaves a foreboding message with voters. Latvala, whose resistance to city annexation powers indeed has riled officials in cities, essentially suggests voting for opponent Beverley Billiris will mean higher taxes and more regulations because "she led the charge for bigger cities."

Nonsense, said Billiris, who is the former mayor of Tarpon Springs.

"Her mailer is positively bogus. The city of Tarpon Springs has never aggressively annexed, and only did ... voluntary annexation," said Billiris, who said she supports North Pinellas neighborhoods opposed to becoming parts of neighboring cities. "If they want to stay unincorporated, they may."

But there are points that seem accurate, too.

The ominous mailing cites a 2005 report in the Times to say Billiris "threatened to sue the county when it attempted to provide that 18 percent (yes -- only 18 percent) of a property had to touch city limits before it could be annexed."

It referred to a County Commission debate over county code on annexations, leading to the board changing guidelines but not law. Latvala voted with the majority in that 5-2 decision.

From the report: "Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverley Billiris said the city would likely consider legal action in the future if the county denies an annexation request using criteria not explicitly mentioned in the ordinance."

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:41pm]


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