Real Estate News for North Pinellas County

Archive for June, 2006

Pinellas Schools choice program

Sometimes people will look at new homes with me and say something like, “I see there is a nice elementary school right around the corner. Is that where my kids will be going?”

The answer is always, “Well, maybe — or maybe not.”

Here’s why:

Pinellas County has something called the Choice Plan, in which parents have to apply for their childrens’ admission to a particular school. Any student who is a resident of Pinellas County can apply for admission to any school in the county, no matter where it is.

Parents name schools that are their first, second and third choices. If there is room at the first choice school, that’s where the kids go. If not, they go to the second choice, or occasionally the third choice.

This seems like sort of a complex system, but here is why it is in place:

Up until 2000, Pinellas County had forced busing, a program that had been put in place to force the integration of public schools. In 2000, the school board came up with a plan to do away with the forced busing, and the Choice Plan was a major component of that. That plan finally went into effect in August of 2003.

All this is a bit complex, but it is not as bad as it sounds. Students stand a very good chance of getting into the school nearest to them, if that is what they want. If that school is full, chances are still good to get into a nearby school. Also, if you want your child to go to the very best rated school, there’s a good chance of that happening, too, although the best-rated schools are often in great demand, as you might expect.

There are also magnet schools, and you can apply to those as well. I’ll probably talk about the magnet schools in another post.

Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about the Choice Plan, you can go to the website at

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Tax rates likely to come down in Citrus County, too

Remember that post a few days ago that said increasing property values in Pasco County would probably result in a lowered tax rate? Well, now the same thing is happening a couple of counties north of Pasco, in Citrus County.

According to Citrus County Property Appraiser Melanie Hensley, this year’s total county property value, $10.46 billion, is 22 percent higher than last year’s value. So county commissioners will be looking at a lower tax rate, probably sometime in July.

No word yet from Pinellas County, but we will probably see a downward tax rate adjustment here, too, if the experiences in other nearby counties are any indication.

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Dunedin Fine Art Center

If you live in (or visit) the town of Dunedin, or really anywhere in Pinellas County, you should make plans to visit the Dunedin Fine Art Center. It’s a real asset to Pinellas, and there’s always something going on that makes a visit worthwhile, whether its a regularly-scheduled outside art show, their classes for youngsters or their gift shop. The website will tell you more —

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Try Peggy O’Neill’s in old Palm Harbor

I’m not a huge fan of the Irish pub/pub food concept, but there are times when nothing but a good burger or some fish and chips will do. And when that moment strikes, Peggy O’Neill’s in old downtown Palm Harbor really fits the bill.

Peggy O'Neill's Irish pub

Peggy O'Neill's Irish pub

There’s a few important items to mention about Peggy O’Neill’s:

First, Peggy O’Neill was supposedly a young Irish woman who immigrated from Ireland to America in 1912, expecting to reunite with her fiance and get married. Unfortunately, the ship she chose for her trip was the Titanic. More than 1,000 survived the sinking of the Titanic, but Peggy wasn’t one of them.

Another item of interest: Peggy O’Neill’s is located in the old Sutherland building at 1026 Florida Ave. in old Palm Harbor, close to Alt. 19. That old building is pretty interesting from an architectural viewpoint, and the old post office trappings have been left alone in what is now the dining room.

The corned beef and cabbage is worth trying; so is the fish & chips. I had a reuben sandwich on a recent trip, and that was excellent, as well. One of our companions tried the Shepard’s Pie, and said it was great.

Like most Irish pubs, Peggy O’Neill’s is casual and fun. The waitpeople are friendly and helpful, and kids seem to be welcome. There’s live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays, and Wednesday night is open jam night.

Did you know there is a whole page of restaurant reviews on my website? Take a look — go to and click on “restaurant reviews.”

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