July 30, 2014
Fallout in Citrus County after the Crystal River Nuclear Plant closed

Photo: Jeffrey Camp

Meek points to Sibex Electronics as an example of a company that's diversifying the county's tax base.

Utilities

Fallout in Citrus County after the Crystal River Nuclear Plant closed

Art Levy | 6/13/2013

First, Duke Energy announced it would permanently close the damaged Crystal River Nuclear Plant rather than fix it, costing Citrus County 585 jobs. Then, the North Carolina-based utility announced that its $35-million property tax bill — which accounts for 26% of the county’s tax base — was too high and it would only pay $19 million of it, forcing county officials to cut personnel and other costs to make up the difference. Now, says Citrus County Commission Chairman Joe Meek, it’s time to make sure the county never gets itself in this position again.

“We’re already looking to diversify our economy and our tax structure,” Meek says. “The change won’t happen overnight, but in 10 years and hopefully sooner, we won’t be as reliant on utilities.”

In addition to using incentives to encourage growth in the county’s eco-tourism, manufacturing and other sectors, the county is looking to create a medical corridor along its center, where it envisions a string of medical facilities, including hospitals and medical office buildings, to serve the county’s population — 55% of whom are older than 49. The county also continues to study the feasibility of a port at the mouth of the old Florida Barge Canal.

Discussions on diversifying the county’s tax structure, which might include more user fees, are also under way. Traditionally, the county has relied on large property owners — such as Duke Energy — to carry the load. The tax structure also relies on new construction, which has withered since the housing bust.

“While we face major issues in Citrus County, and they’re large and they’re real and they’re very impactful, the future is bright,” Meek says. “The county is going to get through this and we’ll be better for it.”

Tags: Energy & Utilities, Environment

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single ditgital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Sweeter and Healthier Strawberries
Sweeter and Healthier Strawberries

Researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville are studying ways to help more people love the taste of healthy foods.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

If Florida's gubernatorial election was held today, who would you vote for?

  • Charlie Crist
  • Gov. Rick Scott
  • Adrian Wyllie
  • Other (comment below)

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe