Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port Richey pulls plug on canal dredging referendum

PORT RICHEY — The canal dredging plan that is more than 10 years and $1 million in the making is, for now, dead in the water.

Port Richey City Council members pulled the plug Wednesday night on holding a referendum to see if waterfront property owners would be willing to pay for the estimated $10 million project through a special tax assessment.

The council shot down a proposal for consultants to spend $29,000 to complete a study that would determine how many homeowners would be asked to participate in paying for dredging 20 canals, as well as what each property owner would have to pay. The funding would have also paid for presenting the property owners with those numbers on a ballot.

The council, which has already spent $1 million planning and seeking permits for the project, also refused to fund continuing with the permitting process for nine other canals that contain environmentally sensitive sea grass.

The decision came down to not spending money on a ballot process that, in the end, had no chance of getting voter approval, several council members said.

Council member Terry Rowe said he heard clearly from constituents that a tax increase proposal had no shot. Rowe said the city should instead seek grants to pay for the project.

"The feedback I have gotten has been very negative on proceeding down this course," Rowe said of putting the dredge assessment to a vote.

Council member Nancy Britton agreed, saying the council needed to meet with affected property owners before proceeding with anything. Britton called on the council to hold a town hall meeting with property owners to discuss the project.

One waterfront property owner, Sandra Spaldi, said the council needs to have face-to-face meetings with those affected for it to have any chance. She also echoed Rowe's concerns, saying she would vote no on an assessment.

"It's not going to happen," she told the council.

However, it remains unclear how many property owners would be selected to participate in a vote on a special assessment. Taylor Engineering, a consultant on the project, has previously estimated about 140 property owners.

But until the council provides the funding for a thorough study to get to a ballot, the exact number of those affected, and how much they will pay, is unknown, said Joe Wagner, Taylor Engineering's manager on the project.

"It could be as many 250, we just don't know," Wagner told the Times after the meeting.

Wagner said that is why he recommended funding a final study to give the homeowners the information they need to make a decision. He also wished the council luck in finding grant funding for the project.

"It's a very difficult atmosphere out there finding grant money for projects like this," he said.

With the dredging project now ground to a halt, the only sliver of hope for completion remains the council's request that Wagner seek an extension on the permits already obtained.

But barring a change in the political climate amid a struggling economy, spending money to move forward is not the will of the board, according to Mayor Richard Rober.

"It seems crystal clear we want to stand pat right now," Rober told Wagner.

Port Richey pulls plug on canal dredging referendum 04/14/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2011 7:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  2. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  3. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale

    Corporate

    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.

    Weinstein
  4. Trial begins in 2014 death of 19-month-old Tampa girl

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Even before his trial officially began, Deandre Gilmore had planted his gaze on the floor of Judge Samantha Ward's courtroom Monday, taking a deep breath and shifting in his seat as a pool of 60 potential jurors learned of his charges.

    Gilmore
  5. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe

    College

    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]