LAND O'LAKES — The last time Pasco County commissioners considered changing the amount of the school impact fee, the public debate turned into a monthslong political brawl featuring public protests, crowded town hall meetings and even intimidating emails from a home builder to elected officials.
And that was a 2011 discussion about lowering the fee, which is charged on newly constructed homes to help pay for new classrooms. Commissioners, on a 3-2 vote, eventually decided not to lower the fee, an idea that had been pitched to them as an economic stimulus....
The typical government-produced road side sign, white letters on a green background, popped up in central Pasco 14 months ago. Installed on the south side of State Road 54 at Cypress Creek Road, it provided information to commuters on their journey eastward to Interstate 75.
It was supposed to mark a boundary, but it might as well have been a stop sign since it halted some Land O'Lakes motorists dead in their tracks. ...
Somewhere, Jim Hollingsworth is smiling.
Hollingsworth, for you recent transplants to Pasco, served a single term on the Pasco County Commission more than 30 years ago. He taught political science at the community college and provided faithful Republican opposition in a Democratic-controlled county. He ran for local office four more times without success, but remained active behind the scenes. He mentored his successor, Mike Wells Sr., and Commissioner Pat Mulieri, and he never stopped advocating for a charter government for Pasco County....
01/14/15 Local Government
DADE CITY — Pasco County and two private ambulance companies are now sharing the non-emergency patient transport business, ending the county's long-standing monopoly on the service.
Under agreements approved by county commissioners this week, Medfleet and American Medical Response are projected to share 262 calls for service this year, which will leave a $157,000 hole in the county's fire-rescue budget....
DADE CITY — On the same morning future Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran stood before Pasco commissioners touting the benefits of term limits, Property Appraiser Mike Wells Sr. walked into an office one block away and filed candidacy papers to seek a sixth four-year term in 2016.
"What can I say?'' Wells, a Republican, said, chuckling about Tuesday's political serendipity.
His re-election plan also contradicts previous statements that he would leave office at the end of his current term, a retirement planned partly to allow his son, recently elected Commissioner Mike Wells Jr., to escape his shadow....
01/13/15 Local Government
DADE CITY — A Pasco County Commission discussion about charter government Tuesday turned into a debate between future state House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano, arguing the validity of reshaping county government.
Corcoran told commissioners that a charter would empower voters by establishing term limits, single-member districts, an elected mayor and recall provisions, making elected officials more accountable. Fasano portrayed it as a power play by state legislators....
01/08/15 Local Government
State Rep. Richard Corcoran is retreating from his push for a legislative-appointed charter commission for Pasco County and instead will support a plan from Pasco Commission Chairman Ted Schrader to share responsibility for shaping the charter committee.
Next week, Schrader will ask fellow commissioners to establish a 15-member charter panel with each of the five members of Pasco's legislative delegation naming one member. County commissioners would name the other 10....
01/08/15 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — The first payout to Pasco County from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill five years ago could mean better boating, cleaner water and shorter lines at the beach restroom.
Last month, a county advisory committee considered how to spend the local share of money from the federal Restore Act, which directs most of the civil penalties from BP and other companies responsible for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Curtis Franklin, the county's Restore program manager, said the committee sifted though 35 projects totaling $365 million. With less than $1 million allocated to the county from the initial payout, the advisory committee recommended one project for each of the three governments seeking a share....
The sign promising community cuisine lured Kelly Miller and Richard Lubanski to the Colonial Hills Civic Association clubhouse like it did so many others before them.
Who can resist the temptation of carbs and conversation?
But unlike the others, Miller and Lubanski never left. That was more than four years ago. She is now head of the civic association, he's the treasurer and, until recently, the sole cook at the Colonial Cafe, the four-day-per-week eatery inside the clubhouse. There, he whipped up breakfast and lunch staples at reasonable prices (a three-egg cheese omelet cost $3.74, including toast and coffee). But the monthly pancake breakfasts ended in November, and the cafe ceased operations in early December....
01/07/15 Local Government
Pasco County Commission Chairman Ted Schrader wants to circumvent state legislators pushing a switch to charter government by asking fellow board members to name their own charter commission, effectively keeping control of the debate within Pasco County.
Schrader said Wednesday he will make his request to commissioners at their meeting next week. Allowing the County Commission to direct the debate will better serve local residents, he said, "rather than having a petition drive from Tallahassee financed by lobbyists and outside interests who may or may not have never set foot in Pasco County.''...
01/06/15 Local Government
State Rep. Richard Corcoran, the future speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, wants Pasco voters to consider switching their county government to one governed by a charter.
Corcoran, a Land O'Lakes Republican, discussed the charter idea during a recent meeting with County Commission Chairman Ted Schrader, County Administrator Michele Baker and lobbyist Shawn Foster. Under state law, a county commission majority vote or a petition signed by 15 percent of the county's registered voters — more than 46,000 signatures in Pasco — can create a charter commission. The panel then has up to 18 months to complete the charter for a public referendum....
The national debate over immigration policies boiled over in Holiday after Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services started sheltering Central American teenagers there under a federal refugee resettlement program.
Opponents picketed outside the facility and crowded three public hearings before planning and county commissioners, portraying the boys as disease-carrying criminals posing a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the surrounding community....
The much-ballyhooed recruitment of T. Rowe Price to central Pasco fell apart publicly in May, when the company canceled its 6-year-old plans to build a new corporate campus along State Road 54 at Sun Lake Boulevard in Lutz. The company paid $13.5 million for the 72-acre site five years ago, but its investment ended there.
When first announced in 2008, the relocation of the investment management company was considered a major coup for a county trying to shed its bedroom-community image, where 80,000 workers leave each day for employment outside Pasco. T. Rowe Price had planned to move 425 jobs from Tampa to Pasco and potentially add 1,200 more employees over 10 years. A state and county incentive package would have paid the company $30 million if all job-creation goals had been met....
The end of December and the end of the year are rapidly approaching, but as a reminder of the things that occurred over the past 12 months, we present the Pasco County 2014 month-at-a-glance calendar:
Rewarding bad behavior: Pasco County turned a blind eye to its partner's tax delinquencies after the Tampa Bay Times revealed that SunWest Acquisition, the owner of land earmarked for the proposed SunWest Harbourtowne waterfront resort, and the county's partner on a planned channel dredge in Aripeka, hadn't paid its county property tax bills since 2010. Commissioner Jack Mariano said he had no problem with the company being $53,000 in arrears because the county had recouped the money through tax certificate sales. Incidentally, the company and its owner, Gary Grubbs, bundled $1,500 in contributions to Mariano's 2012 re-election campaign....
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County doesn't start collecting its renewed Penny for Pasco sales tax until Jan. 1, but transportation planners already are looking 10 years ahead to determine if more small change can return big dividends.
The plan — theoretical at this point — is to cease paying for road improvements with Penny for Pasco after 2024 and to seek a separate 1-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax exclusively for transportation, including transit....