No votes on spraying, skate park
By MOLLY MOORHEAD
ZEPHYRHILLS -- City council members considered proposals to allow the county to spray for mosquitoes within city limits and to share the costs of building a new skateboard park.
On both counts Monday night, members declined to take action until they get more information.
Council members said they wanted assurances that east Pasco would have representation on the board of the Pasco County Mosquito Control District before giving the county their blessing to impose a nominal property tax increase in the city to pay for the spraying.
"We need to know for sure that we'll have representation. . . . We don't want to fund spraying in New Port Richey," council member Lance Smith said.
The fee is expected to raise about $100,000 annually from Zephyrhills property owners to pay for spraying.
Pasco County commissioners have the final say over whether the mosquito district expands to include uncovered areas. That territory, roughly 40 percent of the county's land area, runs from Shady Hills to Dade City and south to Zephyrhills.
Faced with the threat of West Nile virus, commissioners are expected to vote this spring on whether to expand spraying. The mosquito-borne virus infected 28 people in Florida last year and killed two. In Pasco, birds and horses -- no humans -- caught the virus from mosquito bites.
Homeowners who join the mosquito district will pay an extra 0.25-mill property tax, or 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value. A person with a $60,000 house, excluding the $25,000 homestead exemption, would pay $8.75 per year. The city has had few complaints from residents about mosquitoes, and council President Clyde Bracknell asked whether spraying was necessary.
"It would be nice if we had a way for people to let us know" if they want spraying, he said.
The only action council members could take would be to pass a resolution opposing spraying. But it would not be binding to county commissioners.
Land adjacent to the East Pasco Family YMCA is the likely location of a future skateboard park. The city owns that land, and the current YMCA staff could monitor and maintain the park.
Council members ruled out building a park at Krusen Field because it's too far from the center of town. The YMCA, located off Eiland Boulevard, already draws many families.
County commissioners agreed in January to work with Zephyrhills on splitting costs to build a skateboard park. The county's master parks plan calls for at least one skate park in east Pasco.
The county's proposal calls for an equal sharing of the $120,000 cost.
Council member Cathi Compton didn't want to commit to spending $60,000 on a project not in the city budget.
"We need to see where we are at mid year adjustments," she said.
City Manager Steve Spina said he expected a surplus of about $450,000 in contingency funds.
Despite making no commitment to the project, council members were enthusiastic about the idea of a skateboard park.
"I think it's really needed," council member Liz Geiger said. "And I think it would be really good to have it at the YMCA."
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111