The sunset-colored sign beckons drivers from U.S. 19 and Spring Hill Drive to Hernando Beach and its promise of water-front living, fresh seafood and thousands of acres of unspoiled Florida. To get there, you just need to navigate the traffic leaving Walmart, ignore the aroma of a dying sewage treatment plant, and turn left at the entrance to the county-owned trash transfer station.
The view gets better. Honest....
Hernando County Administrator Len Sossamon has a dilemma — his own bosses.
After county commissioners assumed the role of playground bully and kicked sand in the faces of their School Board counterparts, Sossamon wonders if they can all play nice together for the good of the community.
Two words: Fat chance.
Even Sossamon's allies concur.
"Why would the school system want to do anything with the county at this point?'' asked Commissioner Diane Rowden....
Pasco County might be its own worst enemy in trying to build public support for a proposed elevated toll road above the State Road 54/56 corridor crossing the county's southern tier.
The March 10 town hall meeting disintegrated into catcalls, boos, finger-pointing, threats of political retribution and overall rancor topped by the occasional shout-out of a barnyard vernacular synonymous for skepticism....
There is apparently a new rule for people petitioning Hernando County commissioners — you can be seen, but not heard.
Last year, this new rule did in a drone research application at the county-owned airport; education impact fees; and most recently, fluoridating the public water supply. In each case, they were done in (but later reversed in the case of the airport research) by a close-minded commission majority unwilling to consider opposing viewpoints supported by economics, science or even a consultant's report compiled at the request of commissioners and partly paid for by the county....
Hernando School Board member Matt Foreman believes county commissioners wasted nearly $40,000 in public money. He is right.
He said commissioners gave the school district the runaround and failed to give due consideration to a consultant's report calling for a higher impact fee to build classrooms and upgrade school technology. He is right again.
Foreman said commissioners did a disservice to the school board and the community at large by failing to explain the rationale behind their 4-1 vote to continue a moratorium on school impact fees. He called such action disingenuous. Who can disagree?...
Rob Marlowe never left public service. Not really. He exited New Port Richey City Council last year after two terms to focus on his information technology business, but still found time to author a blog, serve on the citizens committee culling resumes of city manager wannabes, stay active in the CoteeMan Triathlon and roll up his shirtsleeves to yank out the decaying landscape and to trim the palm trees at the former U.S. Postal Service building owned by the city....
Tucked away behind a busy Zephyrhills intersection sits a public embarrassment.
The former Hercules Aquatic Center, once one of the gems of the county park system, is now 16 acres of blight. Beneath the oak trees is an overgrown exercise trail, knocked over barbecue grills, broken glass and a vandalized bathhouse leading to the drained junior-Olympic-sized swimming pool.
It used to hold 273,000 gallons of chlorinated water and came equipped with eight racing lanes, two diving boards and lots of use from high school swim teams. Now, the diving area is filled with mildewed deck chairs, dirty rain water and the red floats that had separated the individual lanes. The high schoolers use the YMCA....
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....