Sunday, December 10, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Duke Energy should pay its Citrus County taxes

Duke Energy's charitable foundation delivered nearly $500,000 to Citrus County business agencies earlier this month for economic development and tourism promotion. It was a nice gesture, but it would be more helpful for the utility to pay its $16.6 million property tax bill from 2012 — particularly after an independent appraisal suggests its predecessor companies may have been undervaluing its property for years.

Duke Energy's attempt to knock 54 percent off its 2012 property tax bill and a similar ploy that is expected for the coming fiscal year have left Citrus government agencies and the county school district scrambling to balance their budgets and forcing other taxpayers to pay for the corporate indifference. Citrus County government, for instance, proposed a 37 percent increase in its property tax rate and new fire fees to help maintain services.

For years, Duke Energy's predecessors, Progress Energy and Florida Power Corp., acquiesced to the assessed value assigned to its Citrus County properties in cooperation with the Citrus County property appraiser. That included a now-shuttered nuclear plant and four coal-burning plants in Crystal River. But last year, shortly after buying out Progress Energy, Duke Energy claimed the assessment was too high and valued its properties at $1.1 billion less than the amount set by county appraiser Geoffrey Greene. To prepare for Duke's court challenge, Greene retained an independent appraiser who discovered undisclosed and underreported assets at the complex. That discovery increased the current year's appraisal by almost 50 percent, to nearly $3.5 billion, and produced a $63 million tax notice to Duke for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Duke Energy is within its rights to challenge the government-set value of its properties. That's what value adjustment boards do in every county. But it is not enough to make a nice contribution toward rebuilding and diversifying the Citrus County economy while simultaneously withholding tens of millions of dollars for local schools and government.

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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

It has been 1,979 days since all heck broke loose in the flood insurance industry. Apparently, that just wasnít enough time for Washington to react. So with the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire on Friday, itís looking increasingly likel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the cityís dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills c...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17