Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trio challenges Port Richey's dissolution plan

PORT RICHEY — Three residents have filed a petition in court challenging the validity of an ordinance that lays the framework for the upcoming referendum on dissolving the city of Port Richey.

Former mayor and attorney Eloise Taylor drafted the writ of certiorari in which Ed Ostrand and former City Council members Dale Massad and Jim Priest say the city has not met two of the three conditions that state law requires to be satisfied before a municipality can dissolve.

The first condition:

"The county or another municipality must be demonstrably able to provide necessary services to the municipal area proposed for dissolution."

The second condition:

"An equitable arrangement must be made in relation to bonded indebtedness and vested rights of employees of the municipality to be dissolved."

A third condition, according to the writ, has been met, which is that the "municipality to be dissolved must not be substantially surrounded by other municipalities."

Before drafting the ordinance that puts the dissolution question to voters, Priest said, City Council should have completed a plan outlining what happens to the city if voters decide to dissolve it.

The date for the referendum has not yet been set.

"What I'm asking a judge to do is find, as we do, that the ordinance is deficient right now, and it needs to be brought back and redone, then put to a vote," Priest said. "Once this thing goes to a vote, there's no turning back."

According to the ordinance, drafted by City Attorney Michael Brannigan, the city has to create a dissolution plan within 90 days of the effective date of the ordinance. A divided City Council approved that ordinance March 10.

The ordinance details severance packages for city employees if the city dissolved but doesn't address how to deal with issues like the city's $15 million in assets and $5.2 million in debt.

The council will hold workshops on April 21 and May 5 at City Hall to field residents' questions about what happens if the city dissolves.

Even if the council drafts a dissolution plan before the referendum and holds workshops, Priest said, the council should have planned further ahead to discuss the matter with residents.

"Unless those workshops are a month apiece, all the questions won't get answered," he said. "This is why you have a plan in place before you ever dream about an ordinance."

But council member Phil Abts says the workshops will answer residents' questions before they vote, which will be through mailed ballots.

"I see this as a ploy to prevent the citizens from having their right to vote," Abts said. "The citizens will be educated at workshops, and they have the right and ability to talk to any county administrator, council person or city employee."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at or (813) 909-4609.

Trio challenges Port Richey's dissolution plan 04/10/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 10, 2009 9:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Heroic Hooters manager helps two sheriff's deputies subdue unruly customer


    BRANDON — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office praised a heroic Hooters Restaurant manager Wednesday for coming to the aid of two deputies struggling to subdue an unruly customer.

    It took two deputies and a Hooter's manager to get control of Ashton B. Toney after he threatened to kill an employee who refused to serve him alcohol at a Hooter's in Brandon, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported.
[Booking photo from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Editorial: Turn the heat up on AC problem in Hillsborough schools


    Hillsborough County School District students do not want to hear that their buildings are decrepit. They do not want to hear that Florida's legislators are complicit. All they want to hear is the sweet sound of a classroom air conditioner kicking in at full power. Anything less creates uncomfortably hot classrooms and …

    Superintendent Jeff Eakins and the current Hillsborough County School Board did not create this air conditioning mess, but they own it now.
  3. Man in bunny mask part of trio that breaks into Odessa McDonald's to haul away ATM


    ODESSA — A man in a bunny mask and two also-masked accomplices broke into a McDonald's early Wednesday, hoisted an automatic teller machine into a stolen minivan, then dumped the ATM and the van into a pond, deputies say.

    Three masked men, including one in a bunny mask, broke into an Odessa McDonald's early Wednesday and stole the ATM.
 [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Plan your weekend Aug. 25-27: Craig Morgan, Wearable Art 13, SNL's Pete Davidson, Rodeo Fest


    Plan your weekend


    Pete Davidson: Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson will headline this year's University of South Florida Round-Up Comedy Show, a back-to-school tradition at USF. Expect to hear about his recent trip to rehab, since he's known for his confessional …

    The 12th annual Wearable art Fashion Show was held at the Dunedin Fine Art Center on Saturday evening, August 27, 2016.
DAVID W DOONAN | Special To The Times
  5. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R- Land O' Lakes, is proposing an end to public financing of campaigns. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]