A bill sits in a committee in Tallahassee that would remove part of the Lake Jovita community from St. Leo. Yet, that hasn’t stopped Raphael Davis from challenging longtime commissioner Donna DeWitt for her seat in the St. Leo government.
While Davis talks almost exclusively about the plight of Lake Jovita residents in the town, he has nothing to say about the de-annexation itself, saying he doesn’t “comment on pending legislation or speculation.”
“Since the beginning of the Lake Jovita community, a small portion has allegiance to the Town of St. Leo,” Davis said. “These Lake Jovita residents have, up to this point, quietly gone along about their lives and paid town taxes knowing they were receiving little or no services in return.”
Town taxes, Davis said, are out of line with what Pasco County charges to live in an unincorporated area, and have accumulated more than $1.2 million in cash and reserves because of it.
“I believe a more business-type approach would benefit all of the residents, reduce the current tax burden on all of our residents, and still maintain the town on a sound financial basis,” Davis said.
DeWitt, however, calls Davis’ candidacy just a continuation of the battle the town has had with some Lake Jovita residents since 2006. While she has heard complaints about taxes, she feels the bigger reasons have to do with Saint Leo University itself, a school that predates Lake Jovita by a century or so.
“When we make decisions, we try to be a voice for everybody in the town, not just for Lake Jovita,” said DeWitt, a nun with nearby Holy Name Monastery, who was first elected to the commission in 1997. “They get upset when the university puts up a tree or a light. They knew what was there when they built the community.”
Losing part of Lake Jovita won’t hurt St. Leo at all, DeWitt said, except create some changes on the commission itself when two members will be forced to resign.
“St. Leo will be fine,” she said. “We did it 100 years without them, we’ll continue to do it without them.”
For other parts in our Experience vs. New Blood story package, click here.
Published April 2, 2014
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.