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Mayor's finances and his tap run dry

Mayor Mark Abbott's money problems won't stop flowing. But the water at his house did after he didn't pay his bill.

His water service was cut off for five days after he failed to pay his January bill at his 5346 Bluepoint Drive home, according to the city's utility department records.

Abbott, 44, owed the city of Port Richey $152.60, which included his January bill and late charges accrued for nonpayment, records show.

On Monday, Abbott overpaid the utilities department $235 to reconnect his water service after it was shut off Feb. 8, and he now has a credit toward his next bill.

Council member Fred Miller said Abbott, whose mortgage is being paid by a private trust after his home was foreclosed on in November, should come clean on his finances.

"What's he hiding?" Miller said Wednesday. "If I was the mayor, I sure wouldn't be doing that. Everything should be above the board. He doesn't pay his water bill or his mortgage."

Abbott did not return phone calls seeking comment, and no one answered the door at his home Wednesday afternoon, where a green Kawasaki motorcycle sat on the front porch of the blue and white house.

Today, Abbott must attend a hearing before the Florida Elections Commission in Tallahassee after the commission released a report in December that said he committed 10 state election law violations.

In November, Abbott's home was foreclosed on after he had failed to make payments since August, records show. A private trust was created to pay his new $250,000 mortgage, and he won't have to make a payment until June 15.

Abbott's ex-wife, Ronda O'Dell, pursued him for $2,000 in child support payments he failed to make since their 1998 divorce.

In 1999, records show, Abbott and O'Dell faced foreclosure by the Federal National Mortgage Association.

Abbott, who recently completed real estate school as a "change of careers," said his company, Tech Net Electronics, most likely will go under in the next few months. The business, which sells color scanners to the newspaper and printing industry, is making little profit.

Tech Net is housed in a small white building with a crooked awning where Abbott says 10 employees once worked.

As mayor, Abbott earns $4,320 annually.

Council member Bill Bennett said Abbott should set a better example as the mayor of the city of 3,000.

"I think it's sad the person who leads our city can't make his payment," Bennett said.

Camille C. Spencer can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6229 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6229. Her e-mail address is cspencer@sppimes.com.

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