Citrus commission, residents furious at Progress Energy - FOX 13 News

Citrus commission, residents furious at Progress Energy

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CRYSTAL RIVER (FOX 13) -

In Citrus County, Progress Energy is quickly becoming public enemy number one. Speaking to a packed meeting room, County Commissioner J.J. Kenney didn't hold back.

"They knew what they were doing. They've done it before, and personally, I think we should take them behind the woodshed and knock the ___ out of them," he said.

At issue here: the claim that Progress Energy has shorted Citrus County on its tax bill. The company paid $19 million, but county leaders say it actually owes a total of $35 million, which makes up a quarter of the county's budget.

The two sides don't see eye to eye on the appraised value of some of Progress Energy's assets, so now the county and its citizens have watched $16 million dollars vanish.

Progress Energy, which recently merged with Duke Energy, filed a lawsuit today disputing the county's appraisals.

Meanwhile, leaders in Citrus County are scrambling to stop the bleeding, implementing immediate cuts to new vehicles, freezing nine vacant positions and potentially killing some water quality projects.

Schools are also being hit hard. They're supposed to get half of that missing $16 million. Many now feel like it's Progress Energy who has become the big bully in town.

"We're not playing lets make a deal here," Commission Chair Joe Meek said.

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