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News at Noon: Hillsborough reaches tax deal with Airbnb; gas prices spike; Pasco moves forward on school rezoning; area home sales surge

After nearly a year of negotiations, Hillsborough officials have reached an agreement under which they'll begin collecting taxes on homes and rooms rented through online platform Airbnb. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]

After nearly a year of negotiations, Hillsborough officials have reached an agreement under which they'll begin collecting taxes on homes and rooms rented through online platform Airbnb. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]

The Hillsborough County Tax Collector's office said it has signed an agreement with Airbnb that requires the peer-to-peer rental company to collect taxes on each night booked through its online portal. The agreement will go into effect Feb. 1, meaning the county will just miss out on taxing Airbnb customers in town for the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 9.

DRIVING FOR THE HOLIDAYS? YOU'LL PAY MORE FOR GAS

Gas prices have spiked as much as 15 cents a gallon around Tampa Bay in the past week — and there's no sign of a decrease any time soon, analysts say. Nationally, gas prices are the highest they've been in December in the last six years. Why? OPEC recently agreed to reduce its output by more than 1 million barrels of oil, jumping prices to more than $50 a barrel after the announcement.

PASCO GIVES TENTATIVE OKAY TO SCHOOL REZONINGS

The Pasco County School Board has given tentative approval to three recommended attendance zone changes for 2017-18. The change for east Pasco middle and high schools proved the most contentious, with speakers from potentially affected communities clearly divided between two options.

HOME SALES SURGE AGAIN IN AREA AS PRICES CONTINUE TO CLIMB

Tampa Bay home sales showed huge year over year gains in November while prices in Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties also jumped dramatically. The November figures are a sign that Tampa Bay's housing market remains strong even as rising interest rates threaten to put a chill on sales nationwide.

FHP WARNS OF SCAM INVOLVING FAKE TRAFFIC CITATIONS

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the scam goes like this: Drivers receive emails requesting payment of a citation within a certain time frame. If the payment isn't received on time, the company will demand a daily late fee. The email includes a linked payment page and email address. Anyone receiving such an email should contact authorities.

DEATH TOLL AT LEAST 31 IN MEXICO FIREWORKS BLAST

The third such blast to ravage the market on the northern outskirts of Mexico's capital since 2005 sent up a towering plume of smoke that was lit up by a staccato of bangs and flashes of light. Once the smoke cleared, the open-air bazaar was reduced to a stark expanse of ash, rubble and the charred metal of fireworks stands, casting a pall over the country's Christmas season.

SHERIFF JUDD ACCUSES 'QUEEN OF GRINCHES' IN TOYS FOR TOTS SCAM

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says his office arrested a real-life Grinch accused of taking part in a scam to steal toys from Toys for Tots. Tammy Strickland, 38, faces 166 felony counts and 28 misdemeanor charges. She is accused of filing applications using fictitious names with Toys for Tots to try and obtain toys she intended to give to clients of her personal tax preparation business. "It certainly lowers you overhead if you're stealing the toys from Toys for Tots," Judd says.

12 BLOGS OF CHRISTMAS: IN DEFENSE OF EGG NOG

During the Christmas season, eggnog is truly the gift that keeps on giving. So save your hot cocoa and cider, spiked and otherwise. We live in a nog nation and it should be celebrated as the premier beverage of the holiday season. So says Times staff writer LaVendrick Smith.

REVIEW: 'FENCES' MIGHT TRANSLATE BETTER ON STAGE

August Wilson's Fences is a stage actor's bounty, a dense, dramatic slice of African-American life calling for acting with a capital A. However, Times film critic Steve Persall writes that Denzel Washington's adaptation of Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play is slightly problematic in screen form.

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

News at Noon: Hillsborough reaches tax deal with Airbnb; gas prices spike; Pasco moves forward on school rezoning; area home sales surge 12/21/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2016 11:57am]
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