Dissolving Port Richey proposed as answer to mayoral mess

Image 1 of 4

A few weeks ago, the former mayor of Port Richey, Florida sat wearing an orange jumpsuit in the Pasco County Jail.

From jail, Dale Massad described his own city's police force as “like Barney Fife.” 

Massad explained his goal was to turn over law enforcement in Port Richey to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

Massad and his lawyers say that goal lead to a conspiracy that landed him behind bars.

Conspiracy theories aside, one county commissioner thought Massad's idea was a good one, but not just for the police force; for the whole city.

Commissioner Jack Mariano, who represents Port Richey as a Pasco County commissioner, brought up the possibility of dissolving the town of 2,800 people and having it be an unincorporated area governed by the county.

Suspected of running an illegal medical practice out of his residence, Massad was arrested after allegedly firing a weapon toward SWAT officers who raided his home early one February morning.

Then, the interim mayor, Terrance Rowe was also arrested, accused of plotting with Massad to tamper with a key witness in the case, who was also a law enforcement officer.

Commissioner Mariano says Port Richey’s city council failed twice to appoint a new mayor. Add that with the fact commissioners are struggling to complete infrastructure projects and have a lot of vacant positions; Mariano says the county stepping in might be cheaper on taxpayers. 

91% of Pasco County is already unincorporated.

“They city is in control of their destiny. We are trying to reach out to help them,” Mariano said. “We can provide a lot of services and do the kinds of things cities do already.”

Vince Lupo, Port Richey’s city manager, who would lose his job if the city is dissolved, says the proposal is ridiculous because the small town is financially sound.

“I am shocked and dismayed,” Lupo said of the proposal. “Commissioner Mariano must not care about precinct 23 any longer.”

This isn’t the first time this proposal has been brought up. Nearly 20 years ago, then State Senator Jack Latvala suggested New Port Richey and Port Richey merge together. The idea never went anywhere.