In an abrupt about-face, a divided North Port City Commission on Tuesday voted to abandon efforts to obtain the state's permission to build a hospital in the city.
The 3-to-2 vote came after a months-long effort that cost taxpayers an estimated $100,000 to bring a hospital to the county's largest and fastest-growing city.
Former North Port City Commissioner Vanessa Carusone will be allowed to run for a third term in office, ending a months-long legal battle with the city that Carusone called a “complete waste” of taxpayer money.
Circuit Judge Brian Iten's ruling also opens the door for other former city commissioners who have already served two terms to enter the race, unless they have just served two consecutive terms.
In a major shakeup in the City Commission election, North Port Mayor Jacqueline Moore said Friday that she will resign in November, halfway through her four-year term, so that she can seek election this fall to the District 2 commission seat.
It is a calculated risk for Moore, who will be opposed by at least three candidates, including incumbent Cheryl Cook.
A North Port resident is calling for supporters of open government to protest outside of City Hall before Monday’s regular City Commission meeting.
In less than three months, commissioners made city hall a non-public forum, moved their regular meetings to 10 a.m. and enacted a policy that could make it more costly and time-consuming for citizens to obtain public records.
In the middle of a hotly contested election year, North Port city commissioners are moving to set a limit on campaign donations far lower than what the state allows.
If the proposed ordinance receives final approval, donors will be limited to $250 per candidate for each election cycle. Since 2013 the Florida Legislature has allowed contributions as high as $1,000 for city offices.
When Bill Taaffe took the helm of North Port's fire department in 2003, the city had just two fire stations.
The population was soaring, but North Port had budgeted to add only one station every five years. Taaffe knew that would not be enough.
So North Port called an audible...
Oak Henthorn doesn't drink the water coming from his faucets.
He won't cook with it either.
Henthorn's home, like thousands of others in North Port, relies on a well. The water smells like sulfur, Henthorn said, and it comes with hidden costs.
Across the country, law enforcement agencies have invested countless dollars in the latest crime fighting technologies.
But the North Port Police Department has closed about a dozen cases over the last year with two 21st century creations that cost the city nothing.
Following advice laid out by the Center for Public Safety Management, the North Port Police Department is preparing to restructure next month.
The move will create and eliminate sworn officer positions. The department's four lieutenant positions will be defunded and replaced with a new position titled “police commanders.”
Property owners will see an increase in city taxes in the coming fiscal year, even though North Port's proposed budget calls for no increase in the property tax rate for a second year.
That's because property values are continuing to rise.
Despite opposition from unions, North Port will soon begin enrolling new rank-and-file police and fire department employees into a state-run pension plan.
Over time the change should lower the city’s risks and costs associated with pensions, said North Port Finance Director Pete Lear.
The unions contend the changes are being made for political reasons and will not save taxpayers money because the city will pay more for the same benefit.