Sunday, June 24, 2018
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: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18