Sunday, July 22, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco poll: We’ll pay for parks, libraries

DADE CITY — A majority of Pasco voters say they likely would pay higher taxes to maintain and improve the county’s existing network of parks and libraries, according to a newly released poll.

But exactly how much they are willing to pay isn’t clear, and those responding are less supportive of adding new facilities.

Those are some of the key findings in polling by Clearview Research for Pasco County as commissioners consider how to pay for services and whether to ask voters for a new tax referendum in November.

The polling included both a scientific poll of 401 telephone interviews in late November, plus 605 responses to an on-line survey. The telephone survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Among the findings in the scientific poll:

• Sixty-four percent said they definitely or probably would vote "yes’’ for higher taxes to improve and expand local parks and libraries. Thirty-four percent said they probably or definitely would vote "no.’’

• Voters were split on whether to they would be willing to pay $6 extra a month for parks and libraries with 49 percent saying "no’’ and 48 percent saying "yes.’’ Support dwindled as the proposed dollar amount increased to $8 or $10 monthly.

The $6-per-month figure equates to a one-eighth mill increase on a private residence valued at $100,000. A mill is $1 in tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

• Fifty-one percent disagreed with the statement "I am not willing to raise my local property taxes and am opposed to any tax increase for this purpose.’’

• In the non-scientific on-line survey, 59 percent of respondents said they would pay $6 a month extra for parks and libraries, but that support also dropped when higher amounts were suggested. Only 36 percent said they would pay $10 monthly in additional taxes.

• The scientific survey found respondents more willing to pay new taxes if it meant keeping, maintaining or protecting high-quality parks and library services. They were somewhat more resistant to tax increases for new and/or expanded services, pollsters told commissioners.

If approved, the higher tax rate would provide an $11 million budget to the libraries, allowing all branches to open Mondays. It also would maintain and renovate existing branches and assume the operating expenses of the Starkey Ranch branch when it opens in 2021. Currently, only the Land O’Lakes and Regency Park branches operate on Mondays.

For the parks department, the higher tax rate would bring its annual budget to $20.5 million to maintain current services and begin whittling the multimillion-dollar list of deferred maintenance projects.

"We can’t just keep pushing things off and not taking care of them,’’ said Commissioner Ron Oakley.

Likewise, Commissioner Jack Mariano pointed out how much more neighboring counties spend on parks, libraries and other cultural services.

"I think we need to up our game,’’ said Mariano.

He advocated for a voter referendum and would seek buy-in from residential home builders for higher park impact fees. Commissioners balked in 2015 at a proposal to nearly double the park impact fee, approved in 2002, of $891 per new single-family home.

On Tuesday, neither Commission Chairman Mike Wells or Commissioner Mike Moore embraced the referendum sentiment. Both face re-election this year.

Wells suggested the private sector can reduce the parks department’s needs. Moore said he wanted to wait for the updated property tax rolls in the summer before determining how to proceed.

Later, commissioners asked if capital expenses for parks and libraries could be rolled into a larger referendum for public safety. That issue is scheduled to be discussed at a Feb. 13 workshop.

The polling is among the services provided by Consensus Communications of Orlando. Commissioners hired the company in September for an $85,000 public awareness campaign. The company has been asked to determine the level of public support for implementing the county’s 2015 parks master plan, which called for $149 million worth of park expansion and repair projects over the next decade.

Using polling, town hall meetings, social media, informational videos and other techniques, the consultant has been tasked with trying to build consensus to "support our key messages and encourage the County Commission to place the funding of parks on the ballot for voters to decide,’’ according to its county contract.

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

PAST COVERAGE: How do we pay for parks, libraries?.

PAST COVERAGE: Pasco considers new tax districts.

 
Comments
South Tampa softball all-stars head to Southeast Regional

South Tampa softball all-stars head to Southeast Regional

TAMPA — Emilee Mezrah could have been on vacation in the Bahamas playing in the surf.Instead she’s on vacation in Georgia playing softball in the dirt.Beach vs. softball …"I chose softball," said Mezrah, a seventh grader at Coleman Middle School. "Ri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NAACP to hold vigil for man killed in ‘stand your ground’ shooting Thursday

NAACP to hold vigil for man killed in ‘stand your ground’ shooting Thursday

A local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is holding a vigil Sunday for a black man who was killed Thursday in what authorities are calling a "stand your ground" shooting.The vigil for the family of Markeis McGl...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Duck boat tragedy kills nine members of the same family

Duck boat tragedy kills nine members of the same family

BRANSON, Mo. - The Coleman family had initially thought of going on a vacation to Florida for their annual trip, but the drive was too long for some elderly relatives who wanted to join. The Colemans settled on going to Branson, a southwestern Missou...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Trump’s Putin fallout: Inside the White House’s tumultuous stretch of walk backs

Trump’s Putin fallout: Inside the White House’s tumultuous stretch of walk backs

WASHINGTON - Executive time began early on Thursday, just after sunrise.Feeling exasperated and feisty as he awoke in the White House residence, President Donald Trump firedoff his grievances on Twitter about how the media had been covering his Helsi...
Updated: 4 hours ago
At beach resorts, this bizarre sunscreen booth can mean business

At beach resorts, this bizarre sunscreen booth can mean business

Nothing will ruin your beach vacation faster than a sunburn.Get scorched, and suddenly everything that was meant to be fun isn’t: Massages at the spa hurt, day-drinking by the pool hurts, getting on jet skis hurts. Listening to your skincare-obsessed...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Hooper: ‘Stand your ground’ can’t stand against senseless shooting over parking space

Hooper: ‘Stand your ground’ can’t stand against senseless shooting over parking space

No 5-year-old should witness his father’s death.No person should die over a parking dispute.But that’s what happened in Clearwater last week. Michael Drejka, 47, confronted 25-year-old Britany Jacobs because she was parked in a handicapped spot at a ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pasco Sheriff’s Office releases names of two killed in apparent murder-suicide Saturday

Pasco Sheriff’s Office releases names of two killed in apparent murder-suicide Saturday

NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has released the names of two people killed in what investigators believe was a murder-suicide Saturday.At about 1 p.m. Saturday, Alisa Medovich, 23, of Holiday, was shot and killed by Mario Medina,...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays journal: New faces, same old loss

Rays journal: New faces, same old loss

ST. PETERSBURG — To get a sense of how things are going for the Rays right now, consider that opening day starter Chris Archer was wearing a promotional DJ Kitty head in the dugout and veteran OF Carlos Gomez was playing second base during Satu...
Published: 07/21/18
Kevin Kiermaier frustrated as injuries continue

Kevin Kiermaier frustrated as injuries continue

ST. PETERSBURG — This season has been quite a pain for Rays centerfielder and centerpiece Kevin Kiermaier.A cold bat, a nagging illness, a searing foul ball we'll come back to shortly and a torn thumb ligament that required surgery, all in the ...
Published: 07/21/18
Rowdies gain needed victory

Rowdies gain needed victory

ST. PETERSBURG — Georgi Hristov, the Rowdies' all-time goals leader, extended that mark with his 59th and Junior Flemmings had a goal and two assists to lead a revamped lineup in Saturday's 3-1 win over Indy Eleven at Al Lang Stadium in front o...
Published: 07/21/18