Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Commissioners get head start on pushing Penny for Pasco program

NEW PORT RICHEY — With a public vote still three years away, Pasco commissioners are laying the groundwork to renew the Penny for Pasco sales tax approved by voters in 2004.

The 10-year, $437 million proposal was billed as a way to help pay for school construction, roads, environmental lands and public safety equipment. At a work session Tuesday, commissioners lauded the tax as a way to pay for dozens of critical improvements.

"All I can say is thank God for the Penny," said commission chairwoman Ann Hildebrand. "If our citizens look and see what this Penny has done … it's a pretty doggone good bargain."

Hildebrand said commissioners "need to start planting the seed for 2014," when the tax would come back to voters for renewal.

County staffers have included a renewed Penny into long-term transportation planning. Under the new "mobility fee" endorsed last month by commissioners, lower transportation impact fees would be partly offset by proceeds from the renewed 1-cent sales tax.

During earlier discussions about cutting impact fees on new homes, County Administrator John Gallagher said that in exchange for cutting the fees, he asked developers to support the new Penny. Such a move could include chipping in campaign donations to a political group set up to support the proposal.

But the sales job needs some work. Persuading voters to approve a new tax these days is a lot tougher than in 2004. And Commissioner Ted Schrader noted that thousands of new voters have moved to Pasco since then and don't know about the Penny or what it paid for.

"I think that we've demonstrated that we have spent those dollars wisely," he said.

Because of those new residents, he added, "it's even more important for us to continue to demonstrate to the citizens where the money's coming from and how these improvements are being completed."

After a few boom years and then some reduced collections because of the down economy, the Penny is projected to bring in roughly the original $437 million estimate from 10 years ago.

Of the proceeds, the school district first gets a reimbursement for reducing its property tax rate, a sweetener designed to make the proposal more palatable to voters. So far, that cut has lowered property tax bills by $67 million.

The county gets 45 percent of the rest of the money, and schools get another 45 percent. The remaining 10 percent is split among the cities.

So far, the school district has spent $172 million of its share, including bonds that must be repaid with future collections. That has helped pay for 11 new schools and major renovation projects at several others, including Gulf High, Pasco Middle and Pasco High.

Road improvements get the next biggest share, an estimated $73 million. So far, the county has spent $27 million, including 10 completed projects and another eight under construction. After some original projects came in under budget or were paid for with state or federal stimulus money, commissioners added another 19 projects to the list. Most of those are still being designed, though officials expect most to be finished by the time the tax would be renewed.

Officials have spent $12 million for sheriff's and fire rescue equipment, mostly for new cruisers, in-car laptops, defibrillators and ambulances.

The county has also bought 1,300 acres of environmental lands, spending $10 million out of an estimated $35 million earmarked for conservation.

Lee Logan can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.

Commissioners get head start on pushing Penny for Pasco program 04/12/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 9:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees


    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact


    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show


    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.