Pasco might tap reserves to cover shortfall
When crafting this year's budget, Pasco officials cut $16-million in spending to cope with revenue shortfalls from the state. They also immediately began planning for another $4-million reduction based on Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith's announcement of another 4 percent holdback in funding.
What they didn't prepare for was yet another round of cuts before the fiscal year ends, this time to the tune of $8-million to $12-million. But continued decreases in state revenue estimates have put Pasco, like all Florida districts, in a place it didn't want to be.
Superintendent Heather Fiorentino said the district is doing what it can to save money through energy conservation, hiring freezes and the like. Declining gas prices are helping, too. "We've been doing a lot of savings that we're hoping will exceed what we anticipated for savings," she said.
"But to be honest," she told the Gradebook, "this is one of those times where we've talking about, we are going to have to dip into the reserves to keep this year nice and calm."
Pasco has resisted touching its reserve accounts, even as the employees asked to use the money to supplement salaries. The argument has been that using the one-time funds would hurt the district's credit rating. "That's part of the concern, too," Fiorentino acknowledged. "That's why we're trying to do other things [first]."