Pasco raises count on end to early retirement plan
Proposed raises for Pasco County school employees, currently projected at 1 percent, depend upon a controversial cut that the United School Employees of Pasco rejected as recently as a year ago.
A budget presentation to the School Board on Tuesday showed that just under half of the $3.4 million the administration has tagged as available for salary increases would come from ending the district's early retirement program. That program, in place since 1997, has been used to supplement the retirement pay of certain workers who left the district shy of full vesting in the state pension system.
The administration proposed killing that program last year, but relented in the final days of negotiations.
USEP president Kenny Blankenship said he wasn't thrilled that the concept had popped up again in the district's budget, which gets its first official reading on July 29, even as it has not arrived at the negotiating table. He deemed it a "tactic" by which the administration could blame the USEP for shrinking raises if the union does not agree.
He told the School Board that negotiations are not going well.
"It seems to be deja vu all over again for our teachers and (school-related personnel)," Blankenship said. "They find themselves not to be a priority in the budget again."
Superintendent Kurt Browning acknowledged that the raise amount in the budget carries contingencies, and added that he's not done trying to find more money for pay. Other county agencies are proposing much larger salary hikes for their workers.
"We're not done with raises," he said. "That's all I can say for now."