PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — State lawmakers are calling for a plan to dissolve the City of Port Richey.
- Plan being presented as cost-saving measure
- Negative press, city's fiscal shape among reasons for proposal
- BELOW: Details about Oct. 11 meeting
- More Pasco County headlines
Officials say the plan calls for Pasco County to take over governing the area.
The plan is being presented as a cost-saving measure by State Rep. Amber Mariano and State Sen. Ed Hooper.
Mariano and Hooper say they're pursuing this legislation for two reasons. One is this year's scandals involving the former mayor and vice mayor, Dale Massad and Terrence Rowe.
"It's definitely better than what it was. However the people of the city have dealt with this headache for years and years and years, and I just think we need to cut ties before things happen again because there has been a history of corruption and abuse there," Mariano said.
Hooper said because of the negative press on Port Richey in the past year, they looked into how it's being run and its fiscal shape. This has been done in the past, except then, officials were looking to dissolve the city into New Port Richey.
Fiscal shape and the city's debt is the second reason for the proposed move.
"If I had to say that next year, we'll be fine financially, I’ll take that as an accurate statement. It's beyond next year that worries me," Hooper said in reference to outstanding bond indebtedness he says could require larger payments in the coming years.
Port Richey Mayor Scott Tremblay said the decision should be left up to city voters.
"While I disagree with dissolving the city, I think the proper way to dissolve a city would be to put it on a ballot and let the people vote for it within the city," Tremblay said.
"I think it’s a slippery slope for the legislature just to come in and take a city."
Mariano and Hooper say dissolution would decrease property taxes. They say it's estimated that a home valued at $100,000 that's eligible for the homestead exemption could see a tax decrease of about 43 percent.
"That's real money for these people," Mariano said. "And at the end of the day, the county can perform those services at the same level, if not a higher level."
Three thousand people would be affected by this move. Officials say next week residents will be able to voice their opinions at a meeting. However, it will be up to the legislature to make the final decision.
Tremblay said residents don't want the change.
"I'm against it, and I'll tell you why – it's because the people of Port Richey don't want that. They like their police department, they like their fire department, and they like the services they receive from being within the city.”
The Pasco County Legislative Delegation meeting where people can tell lawmakers how they feel about the dissolution plan is taking place Friday, October 11 in the Performing Arts Center at Pasco-Hernando State College’s West Campus, 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey from 8:00 AM-11:00 AM. Speakers can either sign up by contacting Rep. Mariano’s office at (727) 861-4806 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. People can also sign up the day of the meeting.