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Watering rules may be altered

By BRIDGET HALL

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2000


INVERNESS -- Citrus County officials may end the confusion over watering restrictions once and for all today as they consider a new watering schedule and a new set of penalties for those who water their lawns and plants out of turn.

County officials have received calls from residents about when to water since the Southwest Florida Water Management District restrictions went into effect at the end of April.

Under the proposal, residents and businesses would still be allowed one day a week to water their yards, but the designated watering days would be spread over five days. The watering day for each business or home would be based on the last number in that building's address.

Spreading the watering days over an entire week would help keep water pressure at normal levels, officials said.

Commissioners also will consider a set of civil penalties for those who ignore the watering restrictions.

Currently, the violation is a criminal offense that brings a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

Under the proposed civil penalties, violators would be fined $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second and $100 for the third. The $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail would be a penalty of last resort, either for people who had violated the watering restrictions more than three times, or for people who refused to accept one of the lesser citations.

Other items on the commission's agenda include:

EDC funding. The Economic Development Council will present its semi-annual request for matching funds at 2 p.m. This time the request is for $31,675. The county uses money from the occupational license fees to match every dollar raised by the EDC in cash or in-kind donations.

Utilities partnership. Commissioners will discuss joining a Governmental Utility Authority, a multicounty board that buys water and sewer systems that want to sell. The arrangement allows the county to partially control a system even if it does not have the money to buy it directly.

Cement plant concerns. The board will discuss whether it should send a letter to the Hernando County Commission to express concerns about a proposed Florida Rock Industries cement plant that would sit just south of the county line. The plant could bring extra traffic onto county roads and disturb the Withlacoochee State Forest, County Attorney Larry Haag said.

Olde Towne news. Winston Perry, president of the New Inverness Olde Towne Association, will make a presentation at 1:20 p.m. about the group's accomplishments and goals for revitalizing the historic downtown area.

Property Appraiser's Office. Property Appraiser Ron Schultz will make the case at a 3 p.m. hearing for moving his Inverness office from the new courthouse to an office building at 2105 W State Road 44. The building would cost the county $85,341 a year to lease.

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