Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco school officials want extra tax to help balance budget

LAND O'LAKES — The Pasco School Board set the table Tuesday to increase the local property tax for the current fiscal year and ask voters for permission to do so in the next two years.

The board approved a budget advertisement signaling it might raise the tax rate by 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to cover operating costs.

It also sent a resolution to the county supervisor of elections putting a referendum on the November ballot asking voters for the right to consider continuing the tax in 2011-12 and 2012-13. If voters give their blessing, the School Board would hold separate votes each year on whether to enact the higher tax rate.

Only board member Kathryn Starkey voted against the two items. She said she did not support raising taxes during a recession.

"We need to send a message to Tallahassee that it is the state's responsibility to fund education," said Starkey, who is running for a state House seat in District 45.

The others on the board said they felt they have no choice but to increase the tax rate when they vote on it next week.

"We were underfunded by the state," board member Frank Parker said.

The Legislature has taken money out of several funds, not covered the move to the final stage of class size reduction and played games with revenue expectations, he said.

"We just can't operate under that pretense," Parker said. "Our employees have been sharing in the recession in the county. We just need to keep as many of them employed as we can."

During an afternoon workshop, superintendent Heather Fiorentino and her top staff made clear their support for the tax, which they estimate will raise $5.5 million.

Without it, chief finance officer Olga Swinson said, the options are grim, including:

• 2 percent across-the-board pay cuts;

• 98 additional layoffs; or

• $52 per month more in employees' contributions toward their health insurance premiums.

"If you say no to this, we are back to square one," Swinson told the board.

She noted that her budget team had balanced the budget by incorporating the tax, along with several tough cuts such as employee furloughs and charging workers $30 more a month in health benefit payments.

The budget does not take into account an anticipated mid-year cut in state revenue, though, likely as much as $6 million for Pasco schools.

This operations tax would come on top of a state-mandated property tax increase of 17.7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

In all, the district's tax rate would increase from $7.34 per $1,000 of value a year ago to nearly $7.77 this year. That does not mean the district will have more money, Fiorentino said, as the county's property values have decreased by about 10 percent.

"What they are trying to do is maintain the same amount of funding from last year to this year," she said of the Florida Legislature, which sets school district funding levels including the required local effort.

The board will consider the tax rate on first reading of the budget Tuesday. The hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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

Fast facts

Cell tower, principal transfers approved

In other action Tuesday, the School Board:

• Approved a land lease for a cell phone tower on the Sunlake High School campus.

• Approved several principal and assistant principal appointments, including Terry Holback as principal of Hudson Middle School. She replaces Phil Kupczyk, who will transfer to Seven Springs Middle School as an assistant principal.

• Approved an increase in the drop-in rate for the PLACE before- and after-school program.

Pasco school officials want extra tax to help balance budget 07/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 9:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays' Blake Snell erasing memories of his poor start

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — As Blake Snell strides up the mound at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night with an 10-game unbeaten streak, doesn't the miserable start to his sophomore season, when he was winless in eight starts and got demoted to Triple-A, seem like a long time ago?

    To him, too.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) in the dugout during the fourth inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  2. St. Petersburg youth baseball concession stand vandalized

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — The early-morning phone call warned Charles Castle, president of Burg Baseball, to "expect the worst.'' The organization's concession stand had been vandalized.

     Cliff Williams, Vice President of the Burg Baseball Inc., St. Petersburg, looks at a damaged and trashed concession stand at the Lakewood Baseball Complex, home of the Burg Baseball. According to Williams someone vandalized the concession stand either Saturday or Sunday. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  3. Tampa charter school teacher charged with firing handgun at ground

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa charter school teacher was arrested Sunday after she fired a gun into the ground during a dispute with her boyfriend, police said.

    Melody Patrice Bing, a teacher at the Village of Excellence Academy in Tampa, emerged from her home holding a weapon and dropped it when police confronted her at gunpoint. [Tampa Police Department]
  4. Tuesday's Nothing More concert moved from the State Theatre to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

    Blogs

    Nothing More was one of the highlights of April's 98 Rockfest, a thoroughly entertaining rock outfit with a larger-than-live stage presence.

    Nothing More performed at 98 Rockfest 2017 in Tampa.
  5. Buccaneers-Vikings Turning Point, Week 3: Overreaction vs. reality

    Bucs

    "None of us really know how this group of 53 guys is going to come together and how we're going to play this season."

    Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs torched a porous Bucs secondary Sunday with eight catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns. [Getty Images]