As voters look to insert yet another Lake Jovita resident onto the St. Leo town commission, analysis of a bill in Tallahassee that would effectively break away the community completely from the town says homeowners leaving the jurisdiction could see an annual tax savings of $600.
The report was prepared just after H.B. 1401 — which would shrink St. Leo’s boundaries — passed the state House’s Local & Federal Affairs Committee unanimously.
If the contraction were to move forward, St. Leo’s population would drop from 1,369 to 1,173, the report said. The town itself would lose $50,000 each year, or 15 percent of its total revenue, and would reduce the number of rooftops by 85.
Even with the town shrinking, it will still be much larger than it was just 14 years ago when the town had just under 600 residents. That changed soon after nearby Saint Leo University upgraded from college status, allowing it to expand its population and bring more people into the town.
Lake Jovita, a planned 871-home development, also broke ground around the same time, with a small chunk of the development ending up inside the town boundaries of St. Leo.
Passage of the bill is essential to the survival of St. Leo, some town leaders say. Otherwise, Lake Jovita residents will continue making their way to the commission in an effort to dissolve the 123-year-old town.
State Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, filed the bill last month, and it’s quickly made its way through committee, now on its last stop with the State Affairs Committee, where State Rep. Jim Grant, R-Tampa, is vice chair.
Lake Jovita resident Raphael “Ray” Davis has challenged longtime commissioner Donna DeWitt for her seat at St. Leo town hall. That election will be decided tonight. Bookmark LakerLutzNews.com for results.