It's Halloween. Time to break out the favorite costume, a dead horse. And it's time to beat this thing again.
The discussion for today is the county's schedule of transportation fees adopted in 2011 as a way to try to lure employment centers and drive growth to the State Road 54/56 and U.S. 19 corridors. The fees, called mobility fees, are up for renewal. The County Commission is scheduled to give final consideration for setting the costs for the next three years on Wednesday....
Four years after the county drained two swimming pools as a cost-saving measure, Pasco residents say splash parks, swimming pools, water fitness programs and swim lessons are some of the top priorities missing from the county's parks and recreation offerings.
The so-called needs assessment, assembled via mail and telephone surveys with 621 people, is contained in an ongoing rewrite of the parks and recreation master plan previewed for county commissioners this week....
10/23/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — A Pasco Commission majority wants to turn over some public ambulance services to the private sector.
On a 4-1 vote this week, the commission approved an amended ordinance to make it easier for the private sector to get into the non-emergency transport business in Pasco County. The vote came despite warnings from Commissioner Ted Schrader that losing the $1.2 million in annual revenue to private companies could translate to future property tax increases in the EMS budget or delay adding county ambulances to three fire stations that do not have them due to cost. ...
Businesses along the U.S. 19 corridor in Pasco County do $5.6 billion in annual sales. That's billion with a B.
It's a dollar figure county planners use to emphasize the importance of the western edge of Pasco as an economic engine and why the area is worthy of substantial redevelopment.
Now, ask some of those U.S. 19 business owners what is the most successful enterprise along the highway and don't be surprised if they suggest an unlikely answer:...
This was Wesley Chapel in the late 1980s: Saddlebrook Resort, a McDonald's near the Interstate 75 exit at County Road 54, a road to nowhere known as Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and a mailing address assigned by the U.S. Postal Service that said Zephyrhills.
Talk about an identity crisis. The place didn't have enough businesses to start a chamber of commerce until 1998, a year before the community's first high school opened....
10/21/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County commissioners finally got an idea Tuesday on the price tag of becoming a premier county. In an effort to enhance a planned regional park at the Starkey Ranch development in Trinity, commissioners agreed to consider a new taxing district to cover nearly half of the estimated $14.3 million construction.
In the meantime, commissioners also agreed to spend $7.2 million in park impact fees to build four of the 14 planned sports fields, a passive recreation park and enhanced landscaping and other amenities to start construction of what has been dubbed a "premier'' facility. ...
10/21/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — The retired college professor schooled her charges one last time.
Pasco County Commissioner Pat Mulieri, in her next-to-last meeting after two decades in office, turned to the audience Tuesday afternoon and told of her visit to the Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services shelter in Holiday. There, up to 16 Central American teenagers are seeking refuge after entering this country, without parents, with the hope of being reunited with relatives already here. ...
Retiring Republican Pasco County Commissioner Pat Mulieri has crossed party lines to endorse a potential successor.
In a Facebook posting, Mulieri said she planned to vote for Democrat Erika Jean Remsberg for the District 2 County Commission seat. Remsberg is opposed by Mike Moore who won a three-way GOP primary in August and who has raised almost $170,000 during the campaign, a nearly 20-to-1 margin over Remsberg’s treasury of less than $9,000....
10/17/14 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County is poised to double its lobbying presence in Tallahassee by hiring Ralph Lair, the legislative aide to outgoing Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford.
If commissioners approve, Lair, who also has worked for former state Reps. Ken Littlefield and Carl Littlefield during their legislative careers, will join the Pasco County Utilities Department at an annual salary of $85,000 plus benefits, including a county car....
Gov. Charlie Crist downplayed the incident during a campaign stop in New Port Richey where he spoke to roughly 200 supporters in the Gulf Harbors Civic Association.
"I think it's much ado about nothing,'' he told reporters. "What it seems to me is what we need to talk about is issues like education, the environment, ethical leadership.''
Did he violate the rules that said there was to be no fan? "That's just not true.''...
10/16/14 Public Safety
The Pasco County Commission is considering altering its ambulance transport rules to give a share of the business to private companies, a change one commissioner warns could trigger higher property taxes for the public.
The proposal has been painted by supporters as a desirable privatization that will improve service and public safety, while critics contend it is little more than cherry-picking by the profit-driven private sector....
On Sept. 23, Shawn Foster of Southern Strategy Group stood in front of the Pasco County Commission and helped guide the discussion on county priorities for the 2015 session of the Florida Legislature. Foster, in this role, was acting as the commission's $50,000-per-year Tallahassee lobbyist.
That afternoon, commissioners considered a proposed ordinance that would have private ambulance companies to transport advanced-life-support patients on non-emergency trips among hospitals and to hospice facilities. It is a potentially lucrative concession by the county, giving up about 3.5 percent of the ambulance calls that generate 11 percent of revenue in the EMS budget....
Pasco County should consider a roughly half-billion-dollar investment in government buildings over the next 20 years, a consultant recommended this week, including an expanded jail and new criminal court complex in Land O'Lakes, and a county government campus on 30 acres along the State Road 54 corridor between the Suncoast Parkway and Interstate 75.
It's an ambitious plan, costing as must as $583 million, that includes no recommended financing method. The county that does not charge an impact fee for public buildings committed the next decade's worth of Penny for Pasco sales tax to other projects and just started a savings fund for new buildings. The recently adopted 2015 county budget includes $3.5 million for future capital construction of public buildings....
There's a soccer ball out back. Foosball and air hockey tables, too — the kind of toys that might get a lot of use among teenage boys. Play time is limited, however. Six hours a day these kids are in class, right in the same building where they eat their meals and sleep four to a room.
They study English and learn about the United States. The curriculum is state approved. They study the same lessons used by the successful PACE program for girls. There are occasional field trips. They get into a van and, under adult supervision, head out to the Florida Aquarium or a similar destination. It's part of the learning process....
10/14/14 Local Government
WESLEY CHAPEL — The private pitch to turn former ranch land into a 19-field baseball and softball complex draws most of its financing from a program allowing affluent foreigners to acquire visas in exchange for $1 million investments.
Pasco Sports LLC submitted a $23 million financial package to Pasco County this week that includes letters of commitment for $3 million from Hallmark Mergers and Acquisitions LLC, and $20 million from EB-5 Financing LLC, said county spokesman Doug Tobin....