Penny for Pasco talks gear up
The drumbeat to renew Pasco County's one percent sales tax, of which 45 percent goes toward school construction projects, has grown louder since January, when a poll emerged suggesting that it would easily pass.
Pasco school district officials have not had a single formal conversation on the subject, though they're expected to fully back a November 2012 effort to keep the tax (which actually doesn't expire until 2014) on receipts for another 10 years. They've already incorporated the projected revenue -- more than $140 million -- plus another $110 million from an interlocal fund shifting agreement with the county into their long-range capital projects plan.
That plan also sets project priorities that district spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said will likely be the priority list that the district will use is explaining why voters should back the referendum, if and when it comes. But Romagnoli also said the district is likely to take a more hands-off approach on any campaign, leaving the work to its supportive citizen committee that oversees its ongoing Penny for Pasco projects.
The committee is scheduled to meet on April 17, where it could begin discussing how it wishes to proceed with any attempt to put the tax back before voters. County commissioners already have started their conversation about the measure.
In the past, other counties such as Hernando have let their sales taxes expire before asking voters to re-up. Officials there said that proved they had no expectations that the tax would continue, and then they asked voters to continue their support. Here in Pasco, though, some people complained that the last sales tax vote was held at a time when few voters would turn out, so having the decision made at the same time as a presidential general election could override that criticism.
Is now the time to renew Pasco's Penny? Should the school district continue to work with the county? Should it seek more money than it got in the past? The campaign appears ready to begin. What would your advice be?