Taxable value falls for fifth straight year
For the fifth consecutive year, Pasco County's taxable property value is headed downward. Property Appraiser Mike Wells released an estimate on Thursday showing that the value is down by 5.9 percent countywide, once again reducing the taxing ability of the School Board, County Commission and the local cities. For the school district, the taxable value is estimated at $21.15 billion, down from $22.46 billion. District officials said that would translate into an added $500,000 drop in general operating revenue, beyond the $25.3 million shortfall already expected. For the county, which has a larger homestead exemption than the district, the taxable value is estimated at $19.09 billion, down from $20.3 billion. Taxable values dropped by 2.5 percent in 2011 after an 11 percent drop in 2010.
Lawsuit over landfill dismissed
A company seeking to build a controversial for-profit landfill in east Pasco County suffered a setback recently when a circuit judge tossed out a lawsuit that accused the county of trying to thwart its plans. Angelo's Aggregate Materials said in a complaint filed in 2010 that officials changed the county's long-term growth plan to prevent it from building a household garbage landfill east of Dade City near the Green Swamp. It also appealed the new rules, which required that landfills be limited to property zoned for public or semi-public use, to an administrative law judge. The judge sided with the county. Last month, Circuit Judge Linda Babb dismissed a lawsuit against the county, saying it was premature and that Angelo's officials had to first be denied a rezoning in order to sue the county. The dismissal can be appealed. However, in order for Angelo's to seek a land use change, it must first get a permit for the landfill from the state Department of Environmental Protection. The agency has twice rejected the company's applications. Angelo's has appealed, and hearings are tentatively set for September. Angelo's proposed landfill has drawn opposition from environmentalists, a number of city governments and nearby landowners, including Nestle Waters Corp., which pumps water from Crystal Springs for some of its products.
Gunman sought in store robbery
Authorities have released a composite sketch of the man who robbed a shoe store at gunpoint Tuesday, with the hope that the public can help identify him. The man went into the Payless Shoe Source about 10 a.m. Tuesday at Mitchell Plaza, 3034 Little Road, and handed the cashier a note demanding money. He then fled west on foot, prompting deputies to put Seven Springs Middle and Mitchell High on lockdown for a couple of hours while they searched for the gunman. He was described as a black male, about 30-35 years old, about 5 feet 7, with a slim build, wearing a white shirt, black pants and a black hat. He was unshaven and wearing glasses. Anyone with information may contact Detective Jim Gariepy of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office at 1-800-854-2862, ext. 7279.