02/26/15 Local Government
Talk with state Rep. Richard Corcoran about a charter government for Pasco County and lots of names come into the conversation.
T. Rowe Price.
So, two financial institutions and Tampa's mayor are a key part of this debate? It harkens back to James Carville's internal campaign message to Bill Clinton in 1992: It's the economy, stupid.
This is the charter logic being offered. T. Rowe Price paid $13.5 million for a prime piece of real estate in Lutz, but then never followed through on its plans to add up to 1,200 new jobs on its 72-acre campus. The six-year romance with Pasco finally fell apart publicly 10 months ago. The county is helping to market the land....
02/24/15 Economic Development
WESLEY CHAPEL — Hockey sticks and pucks replaced shovels and hard hats Tuesday morning, even though a front-end loader and dump truck moved dirt where a Zamboni machine will travel across ice in about nine months.
The dichotomy came as more than 100 people gathered to celebrate the commencement of construction on the Cypress Creek Ice and Sports Complex. The $20 million, privately owned and operated facility, located near the State Road 56/Interstate 75 interchange, is about to be rechristened, however. ...
02/23/15 Local Government
Pasco County is poised to pay $450,000 and become partners with a developer on 13 new rental homes reserved for low-income and special-needs residents to settle a legal fight over a scuttled affordable housing partnership.
If commissioners approve the proposed settlement Tuesday, the legal fight will have cost the county $400,000 in legal fees, plus the $450,000 payment to CWHIP Partners LLC, General Home Development Corp. and Ten Oaks Development Corp. Additionally, the county will use state and federal housing dollars to let the developers build the 13 homes....
02/19/15 Local Government
State Rep. Richard Corcoran says he trusts the citizens of Pasco County.
It's one of the standard talking points from the future speaker of the Florida House of Representatives when the topic turns to charter government for Pasco County. Corcoran likes the idea of a charter. So much so that he previously talked about forming a political action committee, raising money and paying people to collect 46,000 petition signatures, which would force the issue to an eventual ballot referendum. He thinks a charter ought to provide for an elected county executive/chairman, single-member districts for commissioners, terms limits and a recall provision....
02/18/15 Real Estate
GOWERS CORNER — The suburbanization of central Pasco is heading north.
Residential growth patterns for the past two decades primarily followed the east-west route along the State Road 54/56 corridor from Trinity to Wiregrass. That trend certainly isn't slowing, with Starkey Ranch under construction in Odessa, the Asturia development slated to add 900 homes and apartments on the former Behnke Ranch, Newland Communities planning to offer homes for sale at the massive Bexley Ranch development by year's end, and Standard Pacific homes debuting its Estacia at Wiregrass just last week....
02/17/15 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County commissioners agreed Tuesday to explore a charter government on their own terms, and plan to appoint an advisory committee of voters to propose potential changes on how local government operates.
Under the plan, to be formalized in a local ordinance, commissioners would retain the option of blessing the finished product, or modifying the recommendations, before seeking a voter referendum, possibly in November 2016. ...
State Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, isn’t too pleased that the Pasco County Commission is staking out an alternative route toward charter government.
Corcoran, who started this public debate, said in January he planned to form a political action committee to raise money and obtain the 46,000 signatures necessary to require a charter commission. Under state law, that panel would have 18 months to complete its task and to take the results to the elected County Commission for a voter referendum....
02/12/15 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County commissioners are considering a "starter charter'' form of government to retain greater control over a proposed makeover of how the county operates.
By adopting a local ordinance to create a charter government advisory committee, commissioners can retain the ability to select from multiple options for a voter referendum, including whether the county administrator should be appointed by commissioners or elected by the public. More significant changes could be made later, if voters approve....
PORT RICHEY — The sign proclaiming Florida state parks as a "national gold medal winner voted America's best'' is low the ground, partially obscured by dead branches from a nearby palmetto bush. It sits amid a short, pothole-filled lime rock driveway leading to a trail head off Scenic Drive, one of three public access points to Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park in western Pasco County....
The beautification of U.S. 19 through Pasco will begin in the middle of the road.
At least that is the plan of the West Pasco Board of Realtors and the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce. They want green palm fronds to replace orange construction barrels. Greg Armstrong calls it creating the "wow.''
Armstrong is head of the political affairs committee for the Realtors. His business, Coldwell Banker F.I. Grey and Son Residential Inc., fronts on U.S. 19, just north of the Main Street intersection in New Port Richey. For the past several months, he's been preoccupied, not with "wow,'' but with "when?'' As in, when is this construction going to be finished? Fall of this year, says the Florida Department of Transportation. ...
The sales pitch starts early.
Old Dixie Highway, south of SunWest Park, needs to be paved. If you do that, then all the people living in Sea Ranch and elsewhere west of U.S. 19 in Hudson can get to the soon-to-open county park without having to navigate U.S. 19 traffic.
Parking spots for 240 cars isn't enough. Not nearly enough.'
And can move from parking to potties....
The swimming pool at the former Hercules Aquatic Center in Zephyrhills is still empty. Unless you count trash and rainwater.
Consider that a public service announcement and a reminder of a wasted asset.
It's worth keeping the Hercules site in mind because Pasco County is about to embark on a long-term parks and recreation master plan, the details of which will be presented to commissioners in a March 3 workshop. (See related story on this page.) But in an October preview, consultants reported that telephone interviews and mail surveys of 621 people revealed the public's top two priorities: taking better care of existing facilities, and adding water facilities and programs — splash parks, swimming pools, water fitness and swimming lessons....
01/28/15 Local Government
So much for the economic recovery producing a government revenue windfall.
At the kickoff to their annual budget season last week, Pasco commissioners heard that nearly 30 percent of the new money expected from a rebounding tax roll already has been committed.
It's a byproduct of the 2011 ordinance that eliminated transportation impact fees and replaced them with less expensive mobility fees to lure employment centers and to drive residential growth into the western and southern tiers of the county....
01/27/15 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — The fight for clean, reasonably priced water for Summertree residents returned to the Pasco County Commission on Tuesday, a year after talks of a public acquisition of a private utility were expected to begin in earnest.
Commissioners agreed to assemble a committee of county and state officials to seek financial assistance from Tallahassee or alternative financing to help cover the cost of connecting the approximately 1,100 homes to Pasco County's water system. An estimated impact fee of $1 million would be owed to the county. But under state law, the private utility, Utilities Inc. of Florida, can profit by paying that fee up front and then charging it back to residents for the next 22 years at 13 percent interest. It translates to a more than $1 million profit for the utility....
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....