23-cent hike in property tax rate weighed
Pasco commissioners on Tuesday set a preliminary tax rate of $6.59 per $1,000 of assessed value, a 23-cent jump from the current year's rate. That rate for 2010-2011 can be lowered, but it cannot go any higher unless the county pays to notify each property owner by first-class mail. By deciding possibly to go with the higher rate for the general fund, commissioners have created a roughly $4.4 million reserve they can use to "buy back" some of the cuts proposed by administrators, roll over to prepare for cuts in 2011-2012 or to lower the tax rate. Commissioners also set a preliminary rate of $1.43 for the fire district, up from the current year's $1.20. Officials will take up the budget in workshops next month and hold the first public hearing in Dade City at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 7.
Officials to begin controlled burns
The Florida Division of Forestry is planning a series of prescribed burns in the Wesley Chapel region through Thursday and Aug. 2-5. The burns will be conducted in 40-acre tracts on private ranch lands to reduce heavy grass, brush and other light fuel accumulations which may present a fire hazard to bordering neighborhoods and traffic safety on State Road 54 and County Road 577. Residents may notice the smoke columns as well as smoke odor during these burns. For more information, call Don Ruths, wildlife mitigation specialist for the Division of Forestry, at (352) 754-6777, ext. 119.
Hurricane shelter earns 'green' title
It's now official: The county's Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter has been certified as a "green building" by the U.S. Green Building Coalition's LEED program, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Officials from Spring Engineering and Bandes Construction, the two firms that teamed up to design and build the Denton Avenue facility, presented Pasco commissioners with the certificate on Tuesday. Commissioners voted in September 2008 to have the building designed to meet the LEED standards for energy efficiency. It's the first county-owned building to win that certification.
Walk/run to launch SR 56 extension
Wiregrass Ranch, in partnership with the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce, will hold a Celebratory Inaugural Walk/Run at 9 a.m. Saturday to commemorate the opening of State Road 56 extension. The privately funded and constructed roadway, which opens on Aug. 1, is one of the largest road projects in Pasco County in nearly 20 years. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. County officials, local dignitaries and members of the Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce will discuss the economic benefits of the new extension of SR 56, which opens the southern central portion of Pasco County.
Pasco School Board candidate Cynthia Armstrong worked at Ridgewood High School as a teacher, not River Ridge High School. A story Sunday was incorrect on that point.
Detailed obituaries are published in Section B.