PORT RICHEY — Want to be a Port Richey City Council member for two months?
If you have lived in the city for at least 12 months, are a registered Pasco County voter and have never been convicted of a felony or crime of moral turpitude, you have a shot.
The Port Richey City Council wants to fill the seat of former Vice Mayor Terry Rowe, who resigned last month as the council prepared to oust him from his seat. Rowe was arrested on March 13 on conspiracy charges following the arrest of former Port Richey Mayor Dale Massad.
Massad has been in jail since the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said on Feb. 21 that he fired a gun at deputies serving a warrant at his Port Richey home related to allegations he was practicing medicine without a license. Massad resigned as mayor.
Authorities say that during a jailhouse phone call between Massad and Rowe after Massad’s arrest on attempted murder charges, the two conspired against a Port Richey police officer who helped to investigate Massad.
On June 18, a jury convicted Massad of charges stemming from the phone call. Rowe, whose case on the same charges is still pending, resigned his post as vice mayor three days later.
To fill Rowe’s seat, the council agreed Tuesday to allow anyone who wants to temporarily fill it to speak for a couple minutes about why he or she would like to be considered. The council will consider only candidates who are present during the July 23 meeting. The council is expected to make a nomination the same night.
If the City Council agrees on a nominee, it will be the first time in months that Port Richey has had a full board. Last month, the council filled one open seat, nominating Todd Maklary, who took part in his first meeting on Tuesday. A special election to fill Maklary’s seat and Rowe’s former seat will take place on September 10.
In other news, the Port Richey City Council voted 3-1 to move forward with a bid to dredge a key canal fronting several restaurants and its Waterfront Park. Maklary cast the lone dissenting vote. The move was required to fulfill requirements for a grant award of $667,000 in Restore Act funding stemming from the British Petroleum oil spill in 2010.
The council accepted a bid from Jacksonville-based Brance Diversified, Inc., to dredge what is known as Canal #1 for a little more than $629,000. The city had hoped to dredge two more canals using Restore Act funds, but Brance’s bid for all three came in at $1.4 million.
In response to concerns about the city accepting a lone bid on the project, City Manager Vince Lupo said that Brance’s bid is the only one the city received during an exhaustive search for qualified companies in recent months. The council’s fear of losing the Restore Act funding outweighed its concerns about going with the lone bid.
“I don’t know how much longer this money is going to be here,” said City Attorney Jim Mathieu.