Port Richey spared as Amber Mariano punts on dissolution bill
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Mariano left the issue open, depending on results of an audit.

Rep. Amber Mariano pulled back from a proposal Friday that could have led to the unwinding of Port Richey.

During a Pasco County Legislative Delegation meeting at Pasco-Hernando State College, Mariano said she would no longer file a bill seeking to extinguish Port Richey as an incorporated city and instead agreed to a legislative audit of the city’s financials, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Mariano, a Republican lawmaker from Hudson whose district includes Port Richey, had filed a bill that would have dissolved the city legislatively. She later updated that bill to call for a voter referendum, which voters previously rejected in 1997 when the question was rejected by a 3 to 1 margin.

As was the case in the 1990s, Port Richey residents showed up en masse to the meeting, this time clad in aqua-colored shirts to speak against the proposal, according to the Times.

Mariano left the issue open to come back depending on the results of the financial audit.

At the center of the issue is former Mayor Dale Massad who was arrested earlier this year on charges of practicing medicine without a license and attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. The latter, more serious crime came when Massad reportedly opened fire on police as they raided his home. No one was injured.

Things got worse for the city when Terrence Rowe took over for Massad as acting Mayor and then was accused, with Massad, of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Massad has since been charged on those counts. The case against Rowe is still pending, but both resigned their elected positions.

Lawmakers Friday admitted the scandal at least in part prompted Mariano’s call for Port Richey’s dissolution.

It was perhaps new Mayor Scott Tremblay, elected in June, who spared the city from the chopping block. Sen. Ed Hooper said Tremblay’s performance since then assuaged some of his concerns about the city’s independence, according to the Times.

“If you were not standing here as Mayor, I’d be supporting dissolving the city of Port Richey, full bore ahead,” said Hooper, who filed a companion to Mariano’s bill in the Senate.

Sen. Tom Lee suggested a financial audit in lieu of dissolution, for now. Mariano and Hooper then agreed to table the bill, sparing the city pending an audit, which Tremblay said he welcomes.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]

One comment

  • Carol Wiese

    October 12, 2019 at 10:58 am

    State legislators making decisions about an entire town without talking to the citizenry is arrogant and against the values of democracy. It’s time for new representation who will work with the people instead of against them.

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