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    By Times staff reports

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001


    New Tampa neighbors want city to sweeten annexation deal

    TAMPA -- When residents of two unincorporated neighborhoods in New Tampa approached the city several months ago about becoming part of Tampa, they said they wanted information about annexation.

    Now they want money, too. Possibly $1-million a year for local projects -- the amount they estimate the city would gain in tax revenue from the annexation.

    The neighborhoods are looking for "something really attractive from the city to put in front of our residents," Mike Carricato, president of the Pebble Creek Homeowners Association, wrote in a letter to the city.

    The letter said the small group from Pebble Creek and Cross Creek that has been exploring annexation still has questions about the proposal and is "ready for a face-to-face" to discuss its concerns. Among the issues: the city's commitment to spending the additional tax revenue it would get on the area, and more details about road improvements.

    County officials have estimated that annexing into the city would cost each homeowner as much as $250 more a year in taxes. It could reduce water and sewer bills for residents of Pebble Creek, who get services from a private franchise that buys water from Tampa.

    City records show that Mayor Dick Greco has directed that there should be nothing but the standard deal for the communities. "There's been no discussion of any incentives," said Ron Rotella, the mayor's consultant on development. "It's certainly nothing we encourage nor is it something that we care to respond to at this point in time."

    Fire damages homes, displaces residents

    TAMPA -- Two fires in Hillsborough County caused a combined $150,000 in damage and displaced several people from three dwellings, officials said.

    A fire about 11:20 p.m. Wednesday caused an estimated $50,000 in damage in a single-story concrete block apartment building at 1506 E 142nd Ave., near the University of South Florida, Hillsborough Fire Rescue spokesman Raymond Yeakley said. It started in the bedroom of one apartment and spread through the roof to a unit next door, he said. No one was injured, but the fire damaged three apartments. The cause is being investigated.

    A suspicious fire in Brandon on Thursday afternoon left a family of five homeless. That fire started in a duplex on Victoria Street about 1:30 p.m. Hillsborough Fire Rescue Chief Nancy Couch estimated damages at $100,000. The Red Cross is helping the family. No one was injured, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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