WUFT News

Progress Energy Florida property tax dispute causes financial woes for Citrus County

By on November 30th, 2012

Citrus County is facing a budget crisis after a utility company refused to pay $16 million in property taxes.

Progress Energy Florida, which serves the county’s 140,000 residents, has a property tax bill of $35 million — a large chunk of the county’s total tax revenue. But as of Wednesday, Progress Energy Florida had only paid $19 million.

Progress Energy Florida became a subsidiary of the North Carolina-based Duke Energy in July and claims the county property appraiser has over valued its Crystal River plant, causing a discrepancy with its property taxes.

Because much of the county’s revenue comes from Progress Energy Florida’s taxes, county services could be affected if the outstanding taxes aren’t paid, said Joe Meek, chairman for the Board of County Commission for Citrus County.

“The dollar amounts that we’re talking about are significant by themselves,” Meek said. “But in relation to the size of our budget, they’re very large. This is a very unique situation where we have a single taxpayer that controls 26 percent of our tax base.”

The money has already been integrated into the county’s budget, causing a potential problem for the county’s police, fire, EMS, parks, libraries and other county functions, Meek said.

And that doesn’t include the $8-million hit the school board could take.

“It’s not as if we’re talking about planning for the future and being able to build our budget around that,” he said. “It directly affects our ability to be able to fund the services that we have budgeted for, that we have set our millage rates on.”

Every year, there are negotiations on property values, but since Duke Energy and Progress Energy Florida have merged, negotiations have not been as successful, Meek explained.

Denise Toledo / WUFT News

Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy held a press conference Thursday to announce changes to the department because of the property tax dispute.

Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy has started making changes because of the lack of money. Dawsy recently instituted a hiring freeze and stopped ordering equipment.

“From there, a lot has to depend on the negotiations between our county and Duke,” he said. “Those are the two players right now.”

If Progress Energy Florida doesn’t settle the dispute, 30 sheriff’s office employees will be laid off, he said.

“That could account for about 25 to 29 deputy sheriffs,” he said. “That’s not where it’s all going to come from. It won’t be just the minimal amount of people. It will go into the communication center. It will go into the detectives. It will go into support staff.”

Progress Energy Florida plans to file a complaint in circuit court Friday regarding the property tax dispute, said Suzanne Grant, a spokeswoman for the company.

The company believes its tax assessment is overstated and wants pay its fair share, which is why it’s looking for options to settle the dispute, Grant said.

“We care very deeply about Citrus County and all the communities that we serve,” she said. “Our employees live and work in these communities, too….But we really feel that it’s our obligation to ensure for all of our customers that our tax values are appropriate and to take the appropriate measure, and that’s what we’re looking into doing.”

Hana Engroff wrote this story online.


This entry was posted in Florida, Local and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Florida

The building photographed is the largest solar installation in Marion County. Recently completed, the installation is estimated to generate 1,000,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Despite Obstacles, Solar Energy Slowly Gains Traction In Florida

Solar energy is growing in popularity in Florida. The largest solar power system in Marion County was recently completed despite losing incentives, including Florida’s solar rebate.


Jim Weaver and Rich Baumiester smile while they enjoy drinks together at a bar. The couple look forward to getting married Aug. 29 in Florida.

Same-Sex Couples Enjoy More Benefits With Marriage Legalization

With the legalization of same-sex marriage in Florida, gay and lesbian couples will now be able to enjoy the benefits of marriage that were not available through civil unions or domestic partnerships.


McAdams2

Rape Survivor’s Journey Comes Full Circle With Execution Of Attacker

Cecilia McAdams finds closure in the execution of the man who raped her and murdered her husband in 1993.


May Bear laughs with Earl while giving him a stick-and-poke tattoo in their tent in the Ocala National Forest on Jan. 24. They were among the first people of the Rainbow Family to help built the site for the  Rainbow Gathering.

Rainbow Family Gathers For Peace In Ocala National Forest

Advocates for love and peace, the Rainbow Family will be camping out in the Ocala National Forest in February. They hope this year will bring good times despite their controversial past.


Navigators James Old, left, and Juan Genao-Homs, with the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, explain the health coverage options to consumers at an enrollment event in Jacksonville, Fla.

Programs Offer Assistance With Signing Up For Health Insurance

Several programs in Florida are helping individuals sign up for health insurance. The services assist with creating email accounts, filling out paperwork and selecting the best coverage options.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments