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. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  2. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County

    Crime

    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts

    Editorials

    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

  4. Editorial: Floridians' health care now at risk in Washington

    Editorials

    The health care for millions of Floridians is now at risk. The U.S. Senate's dramatic vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with no idea what will happen is a dangerous gamble with American lives and the national economy. Barring an unexpected bipartisan compromise, a handful of …

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically returned to the Senate for the first time since his brain cancer was diagnosed and cast the key vote that enabled Vice President Mike Pence to break the 50-50 tie and allow the health care debate to proceed.
  5. Former Marine from Florida dies fighting for Kurdish militia

    ORLANDO — A former Marine who secretly traveled to Syria earlier this year to battle the Islamic State was killed while fighting for a Kurdish militia, his father said Tuesday.

    David Taylor, with his father David Taylor Sr., was killed earlier this month in Syria while fighting for a Kurdish militia.