Thursday, April 26, 2018
Education

Pasco school budget contains raises, relies on slight tax increase

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County property owners will see a tiny tax rate increase with the adoption of the school district's 2013-14 budget.

No one spoke at the School Board's public hearing Tuesday on the $1.079 billion spending plan, which bumps up the tax rate by 1.6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

The owner of a $125,000 home with a homestead exemption will pay $1.60 more than a year ago under the budget, which the board approved unanimously.

Chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong said there was "a lot of good" in the budget. She noted specifically the board's ability to offer raises to all employees for the first time in six years.

The board set aside $3.5 million to supplement about $11.9 million from the state to provide pay hikes.

Officials dealt with a projected shortfall through a combination of department reorganizations, temporary school closures and job cuts. The board eliminated 265 positions, including media specialists and literacy coaches, while avoiding layoffs through reassignments.

Overall, the district's budget grew by about 5 percent. The amount did not include added funding for enrollment increases beyond projections.

Chief finance officer Olga Swinson said the district will not count on that increase until the official student count comes in October and the state reallocates funds. If more money is delivered, she said, "We would take it to the board as a budget amendment."

Superintendent Kurt Browning reminded the board that the budget will be reviewed and changed as needed throughout the year.

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