Friday, November 16, 2018
News Roundup

Here’s your last chance to comment on the Pasco County budget

NEW PORT RICHEY — Don’t expect anybody to go hoarse at Pasco County’s upcoming budget hearing.

Just look at last week’s first session in Dade City for evidence. Commissioners gave the initial blessing to a nearly $1.35 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 with no comment. They didn’t have to because nobody from the public was there to offer their own sentiments.

A steady tax rate might explain that. For the third consecutive year, Pasco will charge 7.6076 mills for its general fund and 1.8036 mills for its fire services. A mil equals $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Homeowners’ tax bills will go up, however, because taxable values have increased. The value of homesteaded properties, tied to the Consumer Price Index, increased 2.1 percent.

For a single-family home valued at $100,000, with homestead exemptions, owners will pay about $16 more in general fund property taxes and $3.79 more for fire service in the coming year. The tax bills also will include annual household assessments of $95 for drainage and $62 for solid waste.

New construction and higher real estate values, bolstering the tax rolls by $2 billion, account for roughly $15 million in new property tax revenue available to the county. Nearly 30 percent of that new money is earmarked for transportation and community redevelopment.

But the rosy financial picture still allowed the county’s operating budget to exceed $703 million for the coming year, including $132 million for the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. Other public safety initiatives include hiring 16 staffers for the 911 emergency communications center and adding ambulance services in Holiday and a fire station in Wesley Chapel.

Additionally, though contract negotiations with the firefighters’ union are continuing, the county wants to hire about 40 new firefighters to reduce the mandatory overtime required of the current staff.

Library branches in Hudson and Dade City will be open more hours, and there is $1 million set-aside to repair county parks that are facing a $24 million backlog of delayed maintenance work. The budget also includes money to finance 4 percent salary increases for county employees.

Property tax bills will begin arriving in mail boxes Nov. 1 and can be paid through April 1 before they are considered delinquent.

Reach C.T. Bowen at [email protected] or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2

RELATED: Higher tax rolls burnishes county budget.

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