Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

New Port Richey proposes higher fees for stormwater, street lights

NEW PORT RICHEY — Cash-strapped city officials have proposed nearly doubling the stormwater assessment and raising the street light fees, all part of the attempts "to restore the city's financial health," according to a memo by finance director Doug Haag.

The proposals include increasing the stormwater assessment from $40.32 to $77.36 per home; and raising the street light assessment from $26.07 to $36.24.

Both fees appear on the property tax bill for every developed property within the city limits of New Port Richey. Raising them would require the City Council's approval as part of spending plan for next budget year, which starts Oct. 1.

"Fee increases of any kind are never popular for anyone, however in this situation it is essential to preserve the short and long-term financial stability of the City of New Port Richey," Haag wrote.

Part of the increase reflects the sticker-shock of bringing the fees up to date, Haag said in the memo. He noted the stormwater fees haven't changed since that program's inception in 2001.

The stormwater fees pay for maintaining more than 40 miles of pipes and 80 drainage structures such as catch basins, plus street sweeping and the mowing of retention ponds and right-of-ways. Haag wrote that part of the growing expense comes from "unfunded mandates imposed by the Federal Government," which established higher water quality standards for stormwater treatment.

The street lighting assessment pays for lighting city streets, right-of-ways and parks. Haag noted that this would be the second rate increase since the program began in 2003.

Both proposed rate hikes would continue through at least 2017, under the proposal. Without the increases, those programs would drain an estimated $1.9 million over five years from the city's general fund, Haag said.

The proposed increases come as finance officials have projected the city will have a $17 million budget shortfall over the next five years due to substantial debt on a couple of redevelopment sites, a property tax base that plunged 11 percent this year, and two electric utility funds which are bringing in less money than expected. The proposed budget for next year includes layoffs of 15 workers and eliminating or freezing nine more vacant positions, for a total savings of nearly $950,000.

After a City Council meeting Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Rob Marlowe said tax hikes were long overdue, but acknowledged as a resident and downtown business owner they will be painful for everyone.

"I'm going to get hit hard," he said of looming tax increases. "But it's something we have to do."

Comments

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Wed., Dec. 13, midday:53 738 7036e_SRit10321Wed., Dec. 13, evening:57 775 2681e_SRit55890LottoWed., Dec....
Updated: 1 hour ago

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Senate race motivated Alabama’s white, black evangelical voters in different ways

Senate race motivated Alabama’s white, black evangelical voters in different ways

Nationally, the word "evangelical" has become in recent years nearly synonymous with "conservative Republican" and Alabama is one of the most evangelical states in the country. But in Alabama, there is a difference: black Christians.While in many par...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

Gators crash volleyball power party, play national semifinal Thursday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s difficult to call a volleyball program that has been to the Final Four eight times an underdog, especially the way Florida rallied to beat Southern California and punch its latest ticket. Yet of the four schools descending on ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 13

Wednesday’s scoreboardGirls soccerCountryside 3, St. Petersburg 1Girls basketballPalm Harbor U. 42, Largo 25
Updated: 2 hours ago
Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith named to fill Franken seat

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith named to fill Franken seat

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith on Wednesday to fill fellow Democrat Al Franken’s Senate seat until a special election in November, setting up his longtime and trusted adviser for a potentially bruising 2018...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida Toys for Tots charity raffles off AR-15 rifle. Gun debate ensues.

Florida Toys for Tots charity raffles off AR-15 rifle. Gun debate ensues.

SPRING HILL — Hernando County Commission Vice Chairman Steve Champion wanted to do something to help raise money for the annual Toys for Tots drive. So he donated the grand prize for the Nov. 18 raffle:It was an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.That led to ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Thefts from cell towers interrupted service, deputies say

Thefts from cell towers interrupted service, deputies say

Lost cell signal recently? The culprit could be a 40-year-old Ruskin man who deputies said stole thousands of dollars worth of the equipment that powers cell towers. The theft interrupted cell tower signals on at least two occasions, deputies said, i...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Foot washes ashore in Canada, again; Abbas wants U.S. out as Mideast mediator; 12 sentenced to life for gang-raping kids; more in world news

Foot washes ashore in Canada, again; Abbas wants U.S. out as Mideast mediator; 12 sentenced to life for gang-raping kids; more in world news

CanadaJust another foot washing ashoreAnother human foot has been found on British Columbia’s coastline, the 13th such grim discovery since 2007. Police said a man was walking on the beach in Jordan River on Vancouver Island when his dog found the fo...
Updated: 2 hours ago