Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Two bills signed into law benefit Pasco

Two bills signed last Friday by Gov. Rick Scott directly impact Pasco County: One lowers homeowner assessments in Trinity while the other establishes water quality standards for private utility companies.

Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, said he sponsored the Water Consumer Protection Act after reading news accounts about Summertree residents' fight with their water provider, Utilities Inc. of Florida.

For years, residents of the sprawling community south of State Road 52 in west Pasco complained about the yellowish color, smell and bad taste of their water. Despite that, state regulators the Public Service Commission awarded Utilities Inc. a 20 percent rate increase in November, triggering protests from the residents.

The law signed last Friday does three main things: establishes standards for taste, color and odor, allows the commission to consider those standards along with existing safety levels when judging rate cases, and gives consumers a mechanism to appeal to the commission to review their water quality.

"What the bill did is a sweeping change in how we expect our private utilities to provide water and sewer service to the people of Florida," Simpson said. "It changes the matrix to allow the consumer to petition the PSC to review water quality and allows, if necessary, (the utility's) certificate to be revoked by the commission. It's the single biggest pro-consumer legislation in years."

The other law approved late last week gives Heritage Lakes residents a break on an annual homeowner assessment.

The assessment was connected to a decision by Pasco commissioners in April to purchase 41.5 acres from a Clearwater developer who had planned an apartment complex called the Oaks at Riverside.

The decision, backed by residents who live near the project, stopped the apartments from moving forward and provided the county a place for an eventual flood-control system.

In return for the land purchase, which cost the county $3 million, 1,600 residents from Heritage Lakes, Riverside Chase and Riverside would have been forced to pay a $135 assessment for 15 years.

The bill, pushed by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, and Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, cut that assessment in half.

Corcoran said he intends to seek another $1.5 million next year to eliminate the assessment altogether.

Rich Shopes can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.

Two bills signed into law benefit Pasco 06/18/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 12:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence


    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, current and former officials said, according to the Washington Post.

    After President Donald Trump fired James Comey, shown here, as FBI director, the Washington Post is reporting, Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
  2. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”
  3. Romano: Time is up chief, make a call on police body cameras


    Excuse me chief, but it's time to take a stand.

    St. Petersburg police Chief Tony Holloway
  4. Potential new laws further curb Floridians' right to government in the Sunshine

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — From temporarily shielding the identities of murder witnesses to permanently sealing millions of criminal and arrest records, state lawmakers did more this spring than they have in all but one of the past 22 years to chip away at Floridians' constitutional guarantees to access government records and …

    The Legislature passed 17 new exemptions to the Sunshine Law, according to a tally by the First Amendment Foundation.
  5. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater


    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.