Add your voice before budget crafting begins
Want a say in the upcoming Pasco County budget? Officials are holding three community budget meetings this month and in May before they move into the budget season this summer and hammer away at a roughly $17 million reduction in property taxes. Citizens can answer questions about what programs and services they find most valuable by using a handheld electronic voting device. Officials will use those responses when they begin crafting the budget. Also, the county is launching an online citizen survey today about programs and services. Residents without access to a computer may take the survey at any county library. The link to the survey will be at the top of the county home page, www.pascocountyfl.net. The dates and locations of the community meetings:
• 7 to 9 p.m. April 27 at Bishop McLaughlin High School Auditorium, 13651 Hays Road, Shady Hills.
• 7 to 9 p.m. April 29 at Pasco-Hernando Community College East Campus, 36727 Blanton Road, Dade City (Law Enforcement Building, E130).
• 2 to 4 p.m. May 15 at Wesley Chapel High School Auditorium, 30651 Wells Road, Wesley Chapel.
New Port Richey
County endorses homeless plan
A 10-year plan to end homelessness in Pasco County got a thumbs-up this week from Pasco commissioners, who will now help a coalition of public and private social service agencies convene a committee to oversee how the plan will be implemented — and funded. The 10-year plan, drafted by the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco, calls for seeking millions of dollars in public and private investments ranging from the construction of 350 units of "supportive housing," more emergency help for rent and utility payments to keep people in their homes and the creation of centers where people can get financial counseling and employment information. In years past, Pasco has lost out on federal money for homeless prevention because it lacked a long-term plan on how to get people into stable housing. The Rev. Dan Campbell, president of the coalition, is hoping to recruit high-powered local players to the committee asked to push the plan and find funding for it. "This really is a momentous day for Pasco County," commission chairwoman Pat Mulieri said Tuesday.
Inmate accused of trying to escape
An inmate broke the lock on his cell door Monday afternoon by punching and kicking it, authorities said. Still, Devin E. Lamm, 23, told deputies he wasn't trying to escape. Lamm "claimed that he only wanted to steal items off the staff desk," a Pasco County Sheriff's Office report said. He took a jail laptop computer and used it to break the fire sprinkler in his cell — then smashed the computer, the report said. Lamm has been in the Pasco County jail since June 2008 after authorities said he and two other men broke into a Hudson home and held a family with two small children at gunpoint while they ransacked the house and fled with $100. In addition to his other charges from that incident, Lamm now also faces charges of attempted escape, destroying fire extinguishing equipment, grand theft and criminal mischief. He is being held without bail.