Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

Port Richey wants full-time code enforcement officer

PORT RICHEY — The city is gearing up to search for a full-time code enforcement officer to combat blight in Port Richey.

Currently, code enforcement is conducted part-time by a police officer. On Tuesday, the City Council directed City Manager Tom O'Neill to start the process of getting him some help. During the budget season, the council allotted $48,000 for the position.

"I think we all believe there's a full-time job to be done out there," said Vice Mayor Bill Colombo.

O'Neill praised the code enforcement work done by Port Richey police Officer John Schwarz, but said he has other law enforcement duties that limit the time he can spend on code enforcement.

"Code enforcement, code compliance, is very, very important and it works to sustain neighborhood property values," O'Neill said.

The city is working to define the code enforcement problem in the city, O'Neill said, but in a memo to the council he said 10 to 20 percent of Port Richey's properties are in violation.

The city handles about 325 code enforcement cases a year but has yet to utilize a new system it implemented this year to issue citations through the County Court system. City Attorney Joseph Poblick told the council that the County Court in Pasco is ready to accept code enforcement citations.

Schwarz told the council he has not yet issued a citation because it has been more cost effective for Port Richey to seek compliance first.

He also said one of the biggest obstacles he faces is trying to get bank-owned properties — many of which are out-of-state — to comply. In some cases the city is now mowing lawns and placing liens on properties, O'Neill added.

"The process is streamlining more and more as I make contacts and do these investigations," Schwarz said. "I have people at banks that I'm on a first name basis with. And that's monumental in this business."

Council members praised Schwarz for seeking compliance before being heavy-handed with property owners and expressed the desire to see that approach continue with a full-time officer.

"The effort to get compliance is the chief ingredient here. We are a small town and we don't want our citizens to perceive us as this heavy-handed enforcement arm of the city," Mayor Eloise Taylor said.

Council member Steve O'Neill agreed that a new officer should not "hammer" property owners, but added tackling the problem will not be easy. He said code enforcement issues are more obvious in a small city.

"This person is going to have a hard job. It's not going to be an easy job," he said.

Council member Terry Rowe said he is glad to see a more even-handed approach to code enforcement in the city than in the past. He said code enforcement in Port Richey was "kind of a joke" among residents years ago.

"It seemed to apply to certain people and not others," Rowe said.

Comments
Czechs eliminate U.S. men’s hockey team in shootout in Olympic quarterfinals

Czechs eliminate U.S. men’s hockey team in shootout in Olympic quarterfinals

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Instead of waiting for his turn for this Olympic shootout, T.J. Oshie was sitting at home along with the rest of the NHL. Four years after his shootout heroics in Sochi, Oshie could only watch helplessly halfway around...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Evangelist Billy Graham, preacher to presidents, dies at age 99

Evangelist Billy Graham, preacher to presidents, dies at age 99

MONTREAT, N.C. — The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died Wednesday. He was 99.Graham, who lo...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
New Port Richey working deal to restore, reopen historic Hacienda Hotel

New Port Richey working deal to restore, reopen historic Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — The city hopes to strike a deal with the renovator and operator of another historic Florida hotel to restore New Port Richey’s historic Hacienda Hotel to its former glory.City leaders on Tuesday directed staff to enter into negotiat...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Parents of Seminole Heights killings suspect processed at jail for house arrest

Parents of Seminole Heights killings suspect processed at jail for house arrest

TAMPA — The parents of a man accused in last year’s Seminole Heights killings reported to a Hillsborough County jail Wednesday morning to be outfitted with the GPS monitors they’ll wear during their six months of house arrest.Rosita Donaldson was boo...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz appears to have been in line for a sizable inheritance. He’ll never get to spend it — except perhaps on defense attorneys.The amount could be enough to compel a judge to order him to hire a private lawyer, rather ...
Updated: 27 minutes ago

New Port Richey moves toward ban of clothing donation bins

NEW PORT RICHEY – The New Port Richey City Council made a bold reversal Tuesday of an initial plan to regulate clothing donations bins, moving instead toward an all-out ban.The council voted unanimously to reject an ordinance it had approved on first...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

A reigning champion for sand and sunshine, Tampa Bay is once again home to one of the best beaches in the United States.Clearwater Beach was named the best beach in the U.S. for 2018 by the popular travel site TripAdvisor.This is the second time this...
Updated: 1 hour ago
In defense of mayonnaise

In defense of mayonnaise

It weighed heavy, spread across my soul like a creamy white burial shroud. I would never admit it, not in a million years.My husband wondered, what was on the chicken? He ate it willingly, then enthusiastically."I can never tell you."I sat quietly fo...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: The Rays fire sale is on

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: The Rays fire sale is on

The fire sale is on for the Rays, as they trade Steven Souza, Jr., to Arizona to trim more payroll for this season.In his lastest podcast, Rick Stroud says he feels bad for Rays fans, as many of their favorite players have left the team, including Ev...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

DADE CITY — A Pasco High School student was taken into custody Tuesday amid accusations of threatening violence against the school. The campus was not at risk, school district officials said. But they made clear they take each threat seriously, and t...
Updated: 1 hour ago