Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco County School Board weighs idea to boost property tax rate

LAND O’LAKES — Pasco County property owners could see their local taxes go up this fall by 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Lawmakers have authorized school districts to increase their property tax rates for critical operating needs. All they need to do is get a supermajority of the board — in Pasco’s case, four of the five School Board members — to approve it. Facing a projected budget shortfall of $5 million, not including any midyear added cuts that the state might impose, Pasco school leaders are taking a close look at whether to impose such a tax. They say it could raise $6 million for the district.

United School Employees of Pasco president Lynne Webb urged the School Board on Tuesday to strongly consider the tax as a preferable alternative to laying off staff or cutting academic programs.

“While I know this option is distasteful — the superintendent and I have talked about that, because it puts more of a burden on funding on the local level — … the fact of the matter is the Legislature has failed to deal with the funding side,” Webb said.

The district should meet its responsibilities regardless, she suggested. But a tax hike might not be as much of a solution as it looks on first blush, chief financial officer Olga Swinson told the board.

In allowing districts to raise the tax, she said, lawmakers also included provisions that would have the state make up the difference for poorer counties that cannot raise the same amount as wealthier ones.

That could mean that the districts that collect more than the state average might end up handing the extra dollars to the districts with less, Swinson warned.

“There’s still some confusion on this one,” superintendent Heather Fiorentino said. “We’re still trying to dig this out … and figure out if this will benefit us or not benefit us.”

Board members agreed to wait until they know more before taking any action. But their immediate reaction was one of disdain.

“Okay. We’re not doing that one,” board member Kathryn Starkey announced after hearing that the district might have to give away as much as half its revenue. “Only the poor counties are going to do it, looking to come up.”

During their budget workshop, the board also mentioned how they have been getting upset calls from employees worried about their jobs. They said teachers are hearing from their principals that the schools will have fewer positions, and then reading in the paper that the goal is to avoid all layoffs. There’s a disconnect that needs to be addressed, board vice chairman Allen Altman said.

Fiorentino explained that the district will have fewer jobs listed in its employee allocations that can be paid for with state and local money, because there is less money than last year.

Once it establishes that base level, she continued, the district will then apply for federal stimulus funds to help save and create jobs needed for the schools to appropriately educate children.

An early retirement incentive plan might help create added vacancies, as well as the usual churn of staff, she added.

It will be an elaborate and drawn out process, with no promises that everyone will have a job in the end, she said. But the goal, Fiorentino said, remains to have every employee who wants a job somewhere in the district when classes begin in the fall.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

Decisions on principal, camp, start times

In other business Tuesday, the School Board:

• Approved the appointment of Phil Kupczyk, assistant principal at Crews Lake Middle School, to become the new principal of Hudson Middle School.

• Rejected the superintendent’s recommendation to expand the PLACE after-school program to San Antonio Elementary School. Instead, the board will allow the Coaches’ Camp, run by two physical education teachers, to make a business proposal to provide before- and after-school programs there.

• Approved new school starting times for 2009-10, to allow for a reduction of dozens of bus routes. More than half of the district schools are affected.

Pasco County School Board weighs idea to boost property tax rate 05/19/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 10:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Men have body image issues too

    Health

    I have lost and gained weight several times in my adult life. It wasn't a problem when I was younger and working construction. An "ideal" office job 30 years ago started the yo-yo effect. I don't have any more weight to lose, but the potential of gaining it back is always there.

    Andrew Meacham on February 2015, left, and May 2017, right.
  2. Lost Highway: As FHP struggles to recruit, speeding tickets plummet

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The number of speeding tickets written by Florida state troopers has plunged three straight years as the agency grapples with a personnel shortage and high turnover.

    A Florida Highway Patrol Academy class in the late 1980s. Typically, graduating classes had about 80 recruits. But the most recent class has less than half that as the agency continues to struggle to fill vacancies. [

Florida: Highway Patrol]
  3. Kidpreneurs — and adults — capitalize on gooey, squishy Slime craze

    Retail

    First it was Play-Doh. Then Gak. There have been dozens of variations for sale of the oozy, gooey, squishable, stretchable kids' toy through the generations.

    Aletheia Venator and Berlyn Perdomo demonstrate the stretchiness of their slime. - Berlyn Perdomo and her friend, Aletheia Venator, both 13, make and sell slime which can be seen on their instagram site @the.real.slimeshadyy [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. After last year's drug-related deaths, Tampa's Sunset Music Festival says it's stepping up safety, security

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Alex Haynes worked three jobs. He had a fiance and an infant son. He owned his own home in Melbourne. Last summer, the 22-year-old attended the Sunset Musical Festival at Raymond James Stadium.

    He left in an ambulance.

    Last year’s Sunset Music Festival was marked by dozens of medical emergencies.
  5. What you need to know for Friday, May 26

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Read this morning why Florida's most prized sweet corn is nearly extinct. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]