Take a gander at the southwest corner of the Suncoast Parkway and State Road 54 in Odessa. There, 54 acres at Suncoast Crossings are home to a Super Target, Chili's, Starbucks, other eateries and retailers, plenty of parking and enough open space for yet another big box store.
Built seven years ago at the height of the residential real estate boom, it is the kind of commercial development longtime central Pasco residents had coveted after years of driving south on Gunn and Dale Mabry highways just to eat at a national chain restaurant or find a retail alternative to Walmart....
Pasco County's ill-timed proposal to increase the local option gasoline tax ended late Tuesday night when commissioners couldn't muster a four-vote majority for approval. Instead, the county will delay some future road-building projects and use that money to maintain the existing highway network.
If you're wondering who to thank/blame for the decision, here is a rundown of the people and circumstances that converged to kill the tax hike:...
The numbers are depressing.
Hernando commissioners heard a lot of them the other day in a presentation of their proposed 2014 county government budget. Some highlights:
The county tax roll lost 37 percent of its value since 2008.
The number of employees answerable to the Board of County Commissioners has been halved since 2006 and the annual personnel costs are down to less than $9 million from $16 million six years ago....
It will be strange writing a different name on the check.
Mike Olson, Tax Collector.
We've been doing it since 1981. To pay our property taxes. To renew the tag for the auto. To buy a license to open a business, go hunting or drive a car. Just make the check payable to Mike Olson, Tax Collector.
Olson was in his 33rd year as Pasco's tax collector and had been a county commissioner for six years prior, including four years as chairman. His nearly four decades of serving the public ended abruptly when he died June 26, three days after suffering a stroke....
Taking exams isn't part of a regular routine for most adults. There is the annual math test due to the Internal Revenue Service every April 15. And anyone continuing their education must provide proof of proficiency via testing, essays or some similar skill measurement. I think the last time I took an exam that mattered was a 1987 road test for a Florida driver's license to replace the version issued by the state of New York....
If this had been a movie, you could call it Glum and Glummer.
Pasco's property tax rolls are up one-quarter of 1 percent compared to a year ago. The $19.3 billion tax roll, upon which Pasco County's government, fire department and school district build the revenue side of their budgets, at least stopped a five-year free fall that removed nearly $10.5 billion from the tax roll since 2008. This year's upward nudge, however, is attributable to new construction. The values of existing commercial, industrial and residential properties in Pasco County still fell 1.59 percent in 2012....
One of the top prom songs for 2013, according to MTVstyle, is Sky Ferreira's Everything is Embarrassing. It certainly reflects the behavior leading up to the River Ridge High School dance last week when a tardy student, obliging teacher, rigid principal and strong-willed parent combined for a brouhaha that left a teary-eyed teenager escorted from the event.
There is plenty of blame to go around and valuable life lessons for all....
The retired English teacher schooled the whipper-snapper Tuesday morning, questioning his motives and sources before failing him on the sloppy execution of a pet project.
The teacher was Commissioner Pat Mulieri, who retired eight years ago as a Pasco Hernando Community College English professor. The whipper-snapper was Jack Mariano, who ranks third in seniority on the five-member commission, but who still comes off at times as a clumsy Eddie Haskell....
If this was a hotel, the sign outside would be flashing "No vacancy.''
The nondescript cinder-block structure looks like a lot of others in Hudson. It has a pale yellow exterior with rust-colored trim and an aging basketball hoop on the edge of the driveway. Just a block off U.S. 19, this place was built in 1960, but took on its current mission in the early 1990s. Six parking spaces are out front and six bedrooms are inside; three are shared by 10 single women and three more are reserved for mothers with children. It's a total of 22 beds for people with no place else to go....
Hernando County commissioners are staring back at the short-sighted view of their predecessors.
More than a decade ago, a different commission declined to set a tax rate on retail telephone and cable television services, opting instead for the minimum under a 2001 state law. That decision is having real implications now as the county figures out how to pay for $4.5 million worth of new communications equipment for its public safety departments....
Six months into his first term as a Pasco County commissioner, Ted Schrader persuaded his colleagues to give $250,000 to Sunrise, a domestic violence and sexual assault center, so the agency could acquire a building.
Opening the public purse in 2001 for a worthwhile cause was one thing; acknowledging the relevance to his own life has proven to be another. A dozen years after the public benevolence, Schrader stands accused of domestic battery....
If a room could be miscast as the temporary Hernando Commission chambers, this was it: the Praise Center.
Glorifying government was not the topic of this town hall meeting Monday afternoon in the annex of the Spring Lake United Methodist Church. There was no repenting nor tithing. Just sermonizing from pro-gun, anti-tax, less-government advocates.
Four commissioners, two constitutional officers, 10 county department heads, and County Administrator Len Sossamon listened to comments from the sparse gathering of perhaps 30 citizens. Empty seats outnumbered the occupied chairs for the session that ended an hour earlier than scheduled. Many of the critiques, often based on hearsay or personal pet peeves, were familiar to anyone who has listened to the voice of the public at the weekly commission meetings....
Here's what having the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives as your neighbor won't get you: A medical institute or a new state university.
Former House Speaker Johnnie Byrd of Plant City pushed through the Byrd Alzheimer Institute as a legacy to his father. Former Senate budget chief JD Alexander's parting gift to his district was the 12th state university — Florida Polytechnic in Polk County....
The end of December and the end of year are rapidly approaching, but as a reminder of the things that occurred over the past 12 months, we present the Pasco County 2012 month-at-glance calendar:
Play Santa: Pasco County government started the year with a $300,000 bill from the holidays after a commission majority, following the lead of Henry Wilson, decided at their final meeting of 2011 to grant their employees an extra day off on Dec. 23. It meant pulling money from three separate accounts to cover the unbudgeted overtime for firefighters, ambulance crews and utilities workers. ...
Most of us see a pity. Craig Carmichael sees potential.
"Can't you just see it?'' Carmichael, 47, says waving his arms.
Well, sure. Look past the plywood covering the broken windows that were never replaced, the unkempt landscaping, mildew, torn screen, the skeleton of the air conditioning unit, broken light fixtures, exterior cracks, nonworking elevator, dingy paint and all round dumpy appearance and this place could really be something. ...