Wednesday, January 17, 2018
News Roundup

Leaner Hernando utilities plan to save $20 million

BROOKSVILLE — With the rate of growth in Hernando far below what had been predicted several years ago, the county's utilities project plan needed to be downsized as well.

County commissioners got their first look at the smaller plan Tuesday during a presentation by Susan Goebel-Canning, the county's environmental services director.

By trimming projects no longer needed over the next five years, the Utilities Department will save $20 million. Commissioners will approve projects in the revised plan as they are needed.

Expanding the airport wastewater treatment plant in phases is central to the five-year plan. Water reuse from that plant also will be put on hold "until the plan becomes financially viable,'' according to Goebel-Canning's report.

Last summer, the airport plant had reached 95 percent of its capacity, handling 750,000 gallons a day. An expansion of the basins at the site increased the capacity to 1 million gallons a day, and the facility is now at 73 percent of capacity.

The new phase-in plan allows the county to be flexible as economic conditions improve and the county begins to grow again, Goebel-Canning said.

The county will continue to provide reuse water for Timber Pines from the expanded west-side treatment plan known as the Glen. There had been discussions with the Wellington at Seven Hills regarding reuse water from the airport plant, but those have broken down, she said.

One project of interest to some Spring Hill residents has not changed. The county still plans to decommission the troublesome and smelly treatment plant on Osowaw Boulevard. With line and plant improvements slated elsewhere over the next two to three years, the old plant should be taken off-line in 2016, with flows diverted to the Glen and the airport plants, Goebel-Canning told the Times.

County staffers began to rethink the 2009 master plan this year after several prominent residents questioned some of its elements and its $150 million price tag. Then-utilities director Joe Stapf had pitched the plan as a way to centralize wastewater facilities, shutting down less efficient, smaller plants.

Along with the capital improvement projects, he pitched to commissioners a funding mechanism — a graduated structure that increased rates over time, up through a final increase next year.

Goebel-Canning told commissioners Tuesday that she is exploring new financing options for any new major utility projects.

The decision to go in a new direction with the capital plan came as the County Commission was also talking about the possible sale of its utilities and a potential review of utilities operations by the Florida Governmental Utility Authority.

Meanwhile, Goebel-Canning conducted her own review of utility operations and brought forward a restructuring plan that reduced staff. Plans to construct a new administration facility at the Wiscon Road utilities maintenance compound and close the current administrative office on the truck route are also ongoing.

The county plans to sell the office building, which previously housed two different restaurants.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

Comments
Navy files criminal charges in connection with deadly ship collisions, including negligent homicide

Navy files criminal charges in connection with deadly ship collisions, including negligent homicide

Washington PostFive Navy officers involved in ship collisions that killed a combined 17 sailors last year will face a variety of criminal charges, including negligent homicide, the service announced Tuesday night.The individuals include Cmdr. Bryce B...
Updated: 5 hours ago
The Daystarter: Freeze watch is in effect; Steve Martin and Martin Short visit Friday; and no, lottery winner is not giving away his money.

The Daystarter: Freeze watch is in effect; Steve Martin and Martin Short visit Friday; and no, lottery winner is not giving away his money.

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• The cold is back Tampa Bay. Wednesday will see highs in the 60s and then it gets worse from there, dropping down to the 20s and 30s overnight. The region is under a free watc...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Local crabber feels like it’s a ‘lucky’ life

Local crabber feels like it’s a ‘lucky’ life

A fading gray-and-white float bobs in the river on a recent morning, and Gus Muench moves toward it, navigating his flat-bottomed boat in the shallow water. After he stops the engine, he uses a hooked pole to pull the float closer and grabs the line ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff, feds to announce changes to immigration detention policies

Pinellas sheriff, feds to announce changes to immigration detention policies

Law enforcement and federal immigration officials will announce today new efforts around the use of immigration detainers.The detainers, or requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that local jails hold onto people suspected of being in...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

It’s barely been a year since Steve Martin and Martin Short last brought their roadshow to town. But there was never a doubt in their minds they’d be back."We thought — and I seriously mean this — we’ve got to play Florida more." Martin said in a pho...
Published: 01/17/18
With help from neighbors, Dunedin  food pantry is moving to bigger digs

With help from neighbors, Dunedin food pantry is moving to bigger digs

BY PIPER CASTILLOTimes Staff WriterDUNEDIN — It has been only two years since the board of directors began operating Dunedin Cares from Faith Lutheran Church, inside a 600-square-foot community room. Already volunteers have handed out upwards of 100,...
Published: 01/17/18
We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

I sat at my desk eating chunked pineapple straight out of the can, reading about how much fruit and vegetables we should all be eating every day: 1 1/2 to two cups of fruit, 2 1/2 to three cups of vegetables, at a minimum, per the United States Depar...
Published: 01/17/18

High school scoreboard for Jan. 16

Tuesday’s scoreboardGirls soccerLennard 8, Blake 0Osceola 1, Clearwater Central Cath. 0Boys soccerIndian Rocks Chr. 4, Bishop McLaughlin 0
Updated: 6 hours ago
Career Q&A: What to do when your boss is stealing

Career Q&A: What to do when your boss is stealing

Q: I strongly suspect that my boss is stealing from our employer. As the property manager for this apartment complex, she handles all payments, deposits and other financial matters.A few weeks ago, I accidentally discovered some suspicious discrepanc...
Updated: 7 hours ago

St. Pete officer suspended for month after pushing concert guard

ST. PETERSBURG — A police officer was suspended for a month after he pushed a security guard at a summer concert in Tampa, according to St. Petersburg police.It could have been worse: Chief Tony Holloway determined Officer Curtis Wright could have be...
Updated: 8 hours ago