State levies fine on Child Support Services

By Times Staff Writer
Published September 13, 2007


A child support collection company doing business in Pinellas County has been fined a quarter-million dollars for violating a court order that banned it from doing business in Florida, authorities said Wednesday.

"Under no conditions will my office permit unscrupulous individuals to steal money from children," said Attorney General Bill McCollum.

He said Child Support Services of Atlanta violated a 2006 injunction prohibiting businessman Stuart C. Cole and his companies from collecting child support payments in Florida.

McCollum alleged that the companies charged contingency fees on child support payments by misrepresenting income deduction orders and other legal documents to noncustodial parents and their employers. State prosecutors sued the companies, and the case was settled last year.

A circuit judge levied the new $250,000 fine against the company, McCollum said. No one with Child Support Services of Atlanta could be reached for comment Wednesday.


City backs off plans for MLK memorial

The beleaguered plan to honor Martin Luther King Jr. is once again on the back burner.

Largo city commissioners Tuesday night unanimously chose to yank funding for the memorial.

Instead, they will earmark a quarter of the amount they once planned to spend as seed money to possibly honor King in the future.


Sprawling project would straddle I-75

The Hernando County Commission paved the way for drastic changes to the east side of the county Wednesday, approving a master plan for a development district near Interstate 75 and the biggest project in the district, Sunrise.

The commission unanimously approved the agreement that creates Sunrise as a development of regional impact with 4,200 houses, 600 apartments, enough commercial space for two Wal-Mart Supercenters, offices, a hotel and a golf course.

If built, it will be the county's largest residential project since Royal Highlands in the 1970s.

The plan for the 4,800-acre development district south of State Road 50 and straddling the interstate uses a new concept in Hernando: higher-than-normal impact fees to pay for building a network of roads.

The state Department of Transportation also signed off on the plan, which department official Bob Clifford said was new for this part of Florida.

"Not only are we excited about it, we're already working with other counties to use this exact same concept," Clifford said.


Performing arts center lost to budget cuts

City Council members have passed a nearly $17-million operating budget for fiscal year 2007-08 and set the city property tax rate.

The rate is a substantial drop from past years, but it came at a price. The city slashed spending on capital expenditures like a long-sought performing arts center and new vehicles for some departments.