PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Lawmakers tabled the issue of dissolving the city of Port Richey on Friday morning and instead voted for a performance audit of the city before discussions continue.
Plans to dissolve the city were first introduced by State Representative Amber Mariano and Senator Ed Hooper in September. They cited the debt surrounding the city and recent controversies as the driving force behind the proposal.
Earlier in the year, former mayor of Port Richey Dale Massad was arrested in February for shooting at deputies who came to his home to serve an arrest warrant. The warrant they came to serve was for practicing medicine without a license.
His deputy mayor was arrested shortly after for his involvement in the Massad investigation. Terrence Rowe was arrested for felony charges of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Discussions to dissolve the city will continue during the annual Pasco County Legislative Delegation meeting at Pasco-Hernando State College.
Rep. Mariano proposed a referendum to let the voters of Port Richey decide on dissolution during Friday's meeting.
“I’m happy that they made that decision to look into it and to make it based on fact,” Port Richey Mayor Scott Tremblay said.
Following the meeting, Rep. Mariano also spoke with ABC Action News about her proposal being tabled.
“We’re doing the best thing that we can to help the citizens and if they want to see the numbers. if they want to see it, I agree with that,” Mariano said.
City officials have accused Rep. Mariano of calling for possible dissolution on behalf of the county and her father, County Commissioner Jack Mariano.
Rep. Mariano denied those claims.
As of Friday, Rep. Mariano says the audit timetable is unclear. But she added that it could take up to a year.