INVERNESS -- Port Citrus and the Citrus County Port Authority are heading off the map.
Citrus County commissioners, sitting as the port authority, voted 3-2 this morning to dissolve both Port Citrus and the Port Authority.
The 3-2 vote was along predictable lines: Commissioners Scott Adams, Scott Carnahan and Ron Kitchen have long opposed spending public money on the port. Commissioners Dennis Damato and Joe Meek were port supporters.
Kitchen was succinct: "We wouldn't be having this discussion if not for an election,"he said, referring to voters support in 2014 of himself and Carnahan.
The board majority turned aside a proposal to contract with the Citrus County Economic Development Council to keep the port afloat while spending no public dollars.
Carnahan seemed ready to support that proposal, but changed his mind. He said he doesn't think any port is viable on the Cross Florida Barge Canal.
The vote doesn't immediately dissolve the port or port authority since both were created by the Legislature. Interim County Attorney Denise Lyn said the port authority will still need formal votes on sending requests to the Legislature.
The port authority was created in 1985 but sat dormant until 2011, when county commissioners voted to create Port Citrus. Commissioners paid a lobbyist $50,000 to get Port Citrus included in the official list of Florida ports, which occurred.
That designation, however, came with a price. Citrus joined the Florida Ports Council, with annual dues ranging from $10,000 to $15,000.
All told, the county has spent about $300,000 so far on Port Citrus.
For more on this story, see Wednesday's Chronicle.