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Word spreads on Pasco budget cut ''Item 1''



Throughout budget discussions, Pasco County school district officials kept two planned spending cuts close to the vest. Citing the need to reveal the ideas at contract negotiations first, the leaders called the ideas Item 1 and Item 2, confounding even School Board members who suggested more transparency was needed.

Item 2 became public on Wednesday, when the district passed a proposal across the table asking to eliminate a local early retirement benefit. The savings are estimated at $1.5 million. So far, the United School Employees of Pasco has not made a formal response.

Item 1, with a projected savings of $1 million, has not been put forth. But word is circulating broadly about what it's expected to be.

Both USEP and School Board officials have told the Gradebook that the administration plans to ask to eliminate a $150 health care flexible spending check that employees get annually to put toward costs outside their insurance.

USEP president Lynne Webb said the concept has been floated at the district's insurance committee, where specifics of the benefits get hashed out. More than one School Board member acknowledged having heard the same details.

District officials would not confirm whether Item 1 is in fact getting rid of that annual check. They said the item will come to the negotiating table within weeks, and before the board makes its final vote on the 2013-14 budget. Board members said if either Item 1 or 2 is not accepted during bargaining, other cuts that they would not identify could be brought forward instead.

[Last modified: Monday, August 5, 2013 2:29pm]


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