Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Pasco

Dissolving Port Richey?: Residents say they’ll fight to save it

Port Richey Mayor Scott Tremblay calls efforts a “power grab.”
Port Richey City Hall     ALICE HERDEN | Special to the Times
Port Richey City Hall ALICE HERDEN | Special to the Times
Published Oct. 9, 2019

PORT RICHEY — Booming applause from a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 people packed Port Richey City Hall Tuesday night as speaker after speaker decried an effort by two state legislators to dissolve the small West Pasco city.

Last week, state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, announced that she and state Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Palm Harbor, would introduce legislation to dissolve Port Richey and have it be run by Pasco County. Emotions ran high Tuesday as Port Richey leaders and residents pledged during a City Council meeting to fight hard against dissolution.

The council heard people from all walks of life in Port Richey — residents of more than 40 years, business owners, and city firefighters and police officers worried about losing their jobs. Everyone who spoke blasted the idea of dissolution. And they called for heavy opposition to be present at a Pasco County legislative delegation meeting Friday at the Pasco-Hernando State College West Campus Performing Arts Center, where the dissolution proposal is expected to be heard. The meeting starts at 8 a.m.

Person after person spoke of fighting for the small-town life they love, with quick response times from police and fire, a City Hall with employees they know and a community vibe they cherish. City employees who fear losing their livelihoods spoke of the proposal’s effect on staff members.

“Which state representative or senator has room for a family of five if I can’t pay my mortgage?" said Port Richey firefighter David Wood. "Hopefully they have a place for my family to stay,”

Others decried the tactics of Mariano and Hooper, who didn’t seek input from city officials or the public before announcing their dissolution effort. Port Richey Mayor Scott Tremblay took umbrage to accusations that the city has engaged in financial wrongdoing and mismanagement.

It is particularly angering, he said, because the city easily debunked such claims with facts, including that it has $16 million in assets and a $12 million budget with only 3 percent debt. Port Richey’s low millage rate stands up as one of the best in the state for its constituents, he said.

The dissolution effort is not to save taxpayers money, but a “power grab,” said Tremblay, an attorney who has been mayor since June. Earlier in the week, city officials called it a behind-the-scenes attempt by Mariano’s father, Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, to take over the city that sits in his district.

Both Marianos deny the city’s allegations.

“To have small amounts of people with power that can bully communities is certainly something that I took a personal stance against,” Tremblay said. “My personal belief is that this isn’t something that is appropriate, and it’s something that I personally detest to be honest with you. I don’t think anything about it is right morally, or legally for that matter, in some ways.”

Vice Mayor Will Dittmer said it is the city’s valuable resources that are being sought.

“This is not about our finances," he said. "It’s about them wanting our waterfront, our wells and our property. That’s what this is about.”

Tremblay said he contacted Hooper after news broke of the dissolution effort. Tremblay said he believes that Hooper was misled by Mariano. He said Hooper expressed surprise at the way the city rebounded earlier this year after the arrests of former Port Richey Mayor Dale Massad and Vice Mayor Terry Rowe on charges unrelated to cityhood matters.

The sentiment in the room Tuesday was summed up by longtime resident Sandra Spaldi, a regular council meeting attendee. Unity will be what stops a dissolution effort, she said

“We have to band together," Spaldi said. "We have to become one unit and fight for it.

"And once we do that, no one can take this city away.”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Former state senator John Legg has not ruled out a run for Pasco County schools superintendent. The district is the nation's largest to elect its chief executive.
    Short answer: Maybe.
  2. But the competition isn’t who many people expected it to be.
  3. Delta Air Lines said Friday it will launch five new round-trip routes a day between Tampa and Miami starting May 4. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    Delta says the daily nonstop Miami service will create new connections for Tampa travelers to fly to Latin America and other international destinations.
  4. Chris Card, chief of community-based care for Eckerd Connects. His agency is now running the two biggest child welfare jurisdictions in Florida. [Tampa Bay Times]
    They are spending more time outside a permanent home as the county struggles to deal with an increase in removals.
  5. Two babirusa pigs are shown at Lowry Park Zoo in this photo from 1995. A Tampa Bay couple is accused of distributing remnants from exotic animal species, including a babirusa skill. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Novita Indah and Larry Malugin sold more than 3,000 items made from the animals over a period of more than five years, federal officials said.
  6. Ernest Blake Crownover, 19, a lacrosse player at Saint Leo University, was killed in a car crash in Pasco County. [Saint Leo University]
    Troopers identified the teen who was killed as Ernest Blake Crownover, 19.
  7. The Pasco County School District's high school graduation rate rose to 88.3 percent in 2019, surpassing the district's goal of getting to 85 percent by 2020. [Times]
    Cypress Creek had the highest percentage among district schools, while Hudson High had the lowest.
  8. Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. [Courtesy of Lynn Cristina]
    A new year signals time to start over, create change and be who you want to be. I fall victim to this hype every year.
  9. Left: Beverly Bobrick, shown in an undated photo, was killed in 2005. (Photo courtesy of St. James the Apostle Catholic Church) Middle: Det. Lisa Schoneman, pictured during a 2011 press conference, lead the Bobrick investigation from the beginning. She retired in 2014. (Times 2011) Right: Brian Stoll committed a series of burglaries near Bobrick's home around the time of her death. In late 2019, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office announced he'd been arrested in Bobrick's murder. (Pasco County Sheriff's Office) [Courtesy of St. James the Apostle Catholic Church / Times / Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
    Of all the homicide investigations Lisa Schoneman ran from the beginning, the killing of 79-year-old Beverly Bobrick was her last unsolved one.
  10. Dade City, Florida [Alice Herden]
    But complications with contracting and construction forced the city to lay temporary pavement that later will be paved over.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement