Pasco school district officials continue to seek balance in 2016-17 budget
With its first budget hearing scheduled for early next week, the Pasco School Board has set forth its proposed property tax rate for the coming year. Property owners would see a slight decrease of 33.6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, as part of the Florida Legislature's move to reduce their local tax burden.
The recommended rates, which represent the maximums the board can adopt, still leave a gap of about $6 million between anticipated revenue and expenses. District budget officials continue to pore over the details to arrive at balance by the time the board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, chief finance officer Olga Swinson said.
"We're working on the roll forwards to make sure we have an accurate estimate," Swinson said, projecting the amount at close to $3.2 million.
Costs associated with providing an added hour of daily reading instruction at 11 low-performing elementary schools remain a wrinkle in the plan. The board is set to consider spending $400,000 of Title I funding to cover 11,275 hours of staff time associated with the state-mandated program. But that's not the full cost.
"We're still trying to identify all the needs," Swinson said.
Perhaps the biggest number that could be affected is the proposal to give all employees 3 percent raises, valued at about $10.89 million in the general fund. The district hasn't brought that offer to the bargaining table yet, and officials lately have started using the term "up to" when talking about the figure.
"It might be less," Swinson acknowledged, if the staff can't find more places to cut.
Board members are supposed to meet in executive session Tuesday afternoon, to talk about bargaining items including the potential raise.
"We still don't have a final final on how we're going to balance the budget," Swinson said. "We are looking at every possible line where we can get the funds."