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Port Richey is authoring its own fireworks ban

City Manager Vince Lupo says he loves fireworks, but is obliged to produce an ordinance prohibiting their use.

By MATTHEW WAITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 15, 2000


PORT RICHEY -- Vince Lupo's duties as city manager were weighing on him.

He said it was with a heavy heart he brought a measure to the City Council on Tuesday night to ban fireworks in Port Richey.

"I do love fireworks," he said, "despite what goes on in council chambers."

Not wanting to go out on the same limb as Pasco County, Port Richey is holding off on banning fireworks in the city until its own ordinance can be drafted. The council agreed it wasn't willing to risk lawsuits by banning the sale of fireworks, but ordered an ordinance banning the use of them to be brought up before the next meeting, on June 27.

The County Commission banned the sale and use of fireworks in unincorporated Pasco County last week. County legal staffers warned the commission that banning the sale could result in lawsuits.

Port Richey fire Chief Tim Fussell told the council that he strongly felt the council needed to prevent the use of fireworks, including sparklers, because of desert-like drought conditions.

In other council business Tuesday:

Before the council meeting, during a planning session, Lupo told the council members that they may have to consider raising utility rates in the next year. It would be the first such increase in 10 years, Lupo said, and comes only because New Port Richey started charging Port Richey nearly double for bulk water. "You just can't simply absorb a 100-percent increase without affecting rates," he said. Lupo said he would know more when he and city staffers are done analyzing a long-awaited rate study on the city utility services.

Council members unanimously approved annexing the shopping center where the temporary city hall now resides. Since April, the city hall resided in unincorporated Pasco County, across the street from city land. The council also approved annexing another plot of land near Springer Drive and Formel Avenue.

Two new ordinances were unveiled to the council dealing with removing illegal signs in the public rights of way and handling garbage. The sign ordinance will give city code officials the ability to yank signs from the rights of way and off telephone poles and cite the owner of the sign with a fine. The ordinance won't affect garage sale signs, because residents holding a garage sale have to get a $2 permit to have the sale. The garbage ordinance fills a hole in the city code, which has no garbage ordinances on the books. The ordinance sets fines for allowing garbage to accumulate and requires residences and businesses to have sufficient trash storage. Council members returned the ordinance to the city attorney for revisions, and might include a requirement for all residences to have proof of trash service. Both ordinances will have a first reading after being revised.

Before Tuesday's meeting, council members discussed goals and objectives for the city. Most of the discussion centered on continuing goals, such as making government efficient. Council members discussed establishing a code enforcement board, as well as reviving and expanding several others. Mayor Eileen Ferdinand also talked about writing a code of ethics for Port Richey officials. Another goals session is planned for June 27.

-- Staff writer Matthew Waite can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6247 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6247. His e-mail address is waite@sptimes.com.

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