Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

School district has been paying fee to New Port Richey in error

NEW PORT RICHEY — Since 2012, the city of New Port Richey has charged the Pasco County school district streetlight fee assessments that district officials say they shouldn't have to pay.

But pay they did, to the tune of $9,272 a year. Now, the district wants its money back.

"Unfortunately, we made some payments that we shouldn't have," district chief financial officer Olga Swinson said. "I am still trying to get to the bottom of it and see why we did, because there was clear indication that we shouldn't have been."

District officials discovered the extent of the payments after a Tampa Bay Times editorial writer asked why the district paid the fees if it was exempt from stormwater fees elsewhere.

It turned out that New Port Richey began charging streetlight fees in 2012 for Gulf Middle, Gulf High, Richey Elementary, Harry Schwettman Education Center and a transportation depot. The bills coincided with a change in a city ordinance increasing the fees.

A form letter to residents noted that the fee was not new, having originally been imposed in 2003. The difference, it said, was a change in the amount. It noted the fee represented a pass-through of utility costs that all property owners — including governments — would pay.

In the past, the School Board had notified the city that it was not legally obligated to pay stormwater utility fees. It held the same position on the streetlight fees, which it had never paid.

Somehow, though, the message did not carry through to the city billing department. And when the district received the notices, Swinson said, "we in my department just picked them up and paid them. It was an error."

She said the district would attempt to get a refund, although she didn't know how successful that effort would be.

City finance director Peter Altman, who only recently began his job, said he needed to research the background of the fee and the district's position before making any recommendations.

"All the governments have to work together to serve the citizenry," said Altman, a former county commissioner and city mayor. "I am looking forward to working with them to resolve this issue."

Meanwhile, the district's opposition to Dade City's fees has been put on hold, as the city missed its deadline to place the amount on 2014 county tax bills.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at jsolochek@tampabay.com, (813) 909-4614 or Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

School district has been paying fee to New Port Richey in error 03/07/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 7, 2014 1:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]