Sunday, December 10, 2017
Editorials

Time for Pinellas to end tax fight over ranch

A disputed property tax bill for the 12,400-acre Cross Bar Ranch in central Pasco is one more reason for Pinellas County to consider selling the property to Pasco. Pinellas has no reason to hold on to the land it once needed to supply water, and there is no reason the counties should be fighting over property tax bills.

The anti-tax claim by Pinellas is questionable considering the land generates revenue — 1,000 acres of pine trees recently were clear-cut for timber — and Pinellas failed to file exemption applications with the Pasco property appraiser. Instead, Pinellas sent a we're-not-paying letter to the Pasco tax collector 26 days after the deadline for its 2012 tax payment. The tardy claim flunked legal sufficiency and resulted in a higher tax bill to the public since $7,700 in penalties have been added to the delinquent $52,000 tax bill. Pinellas maintains it can no longer make "voluntary'' payments even though the 2012 bill amounted to just $4.14 of property tax per acre.

The disagreement is likely to generate legal bills for both counties and should give pause to Pinellas commissioners who rebuffed Pasco's purchase overtures last month when they failed to hire an outside appraiser. The land, a remnant of the water wars and home to 17 wellheads owned by Tampa Bay Water, totals 36 parcels that Pinellas acquired over 14 years for $10.3 million.

The Pasco property appraiser values the land at $57 million, more than five times the purchase prices but still substantially less than during the real estate market's peak a half dozen years ago when the state added it to its preservation list.

State purchase of the land is no longer a realistic option, which leaves Pasco County as the only public suitor. It is time for Pinellas to end the tax dispute, determine the land's potential value, and work with its neighbors to maintain the property as highly desirable public green space. The legitimate reason for Pinellas taxpayers to own the Pasco property has long passed.

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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