Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco commissioners dig into reserves to keep elderly nutrition, Officer Friendly programs afloat for another year

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's elderly nutrition program is safe. Two of the county's poorest communities also will get to keep Officer Friendly sheriff's deputies, as county commissioners dug into reserves to keep the popular programs afloat in a tight budget year.

But the fixes are good only for this year. Commissioners will have to look for other revenues if they want to continue the programs after that point.

"It isn't just food," Commissioner Pat Mulieri said of the nutrition program, which provides 800 meals a day through dining centers and home deliveries. "It's feeding their minds, feeding their emotions."

Until Tuesday's unanimous commission vote, the meal program's fate was in limbo. Federal budget cuts had resulted in an anticipated shortfall of about $83,000. Clients came out in droves to encourage commissioners to find the money. Commissioners voted to use $39,000 in private donations to maintain the program and take the remaining $44,000 from reserves.

"For some people, it's their only meal they get in a day," volunteer Dot Cote said.

Community services director Liz Harris said Pasco's program relies on 14 staffers and "a significant army" of 475 volunteers. Dining sites are county owned or rent free. Hillsborough, by comparison, has 14 volunteers for its program.

Commissioners agreed the program was worthy, but differed on how to pay for it in the future. One option presented was privatization.

"I think you would lose so much," Mulieri said, a position supported by Commissioner Jack Mariano.

But commissioners Kathryn Starkey and Henry Wilson said other options should be explored.

"I'm very much in support of making sure our elderly are fed," Starkey said, noting that there's a 125-person wait list. "But I'm not sure that's best served by us." She suggested partnering with a seniors' group such as CARES, which provides adult day care.

As for Officer Friendly, county officials had already allocated $84,000 in federal money for that program but were limited by law from spending more, unless it was cut from another program. Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco funded part of the costs in the past, which totaled about $120,000, to pay the salaries, benefits and equipment of the two deputies who work in Tommytown and Lacoochee.

But Nocco, citing a tight budget, did not fund the program. The county's share was enough to pay for one deputy.

On Tuesday, commissioners agreed to use reserves for the remaining $36,000.

Pasco commissioners dig into reserves to keep elderly nutrition, Officer Friendly programs afloat for another year 09/24/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Long before Trump hired (and fired) him, Steve Bannon was making deals and kindling political fires in Florida


    With Steve Bannon leaving the White House today, we're re-posting this Leary-Smith look at Bannon's significant, if mysterious, Florida ties.

    Steve Bannon’s voter registration from August 2016 shows he moved from Miami to Nokomis in Sarasota County.
  2. Rick Baker won't recuse himself from city business with his current boss Bill Edwards


    ST. PETERSBURG — If Rick Baker is elected mayor, he said he will not recuse himself from any city business involving his current boss, businessman Bill Edwards.

    Rick Baker and Bill Edwards listen to NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson during a press conference at the Mahaffey Theater in 2013 announcing that Edwards was the team's new owner. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]

  3. Spooky Empire brings Spooky Day in the Parks to Disney World


    Foolish mortals, evil queens and hook-handed pirates finally get their own day this year at Walt Disney World.

    Spooky Day in the Parks comes to Disney World Sept. 22-24.
  4. New York Times: Trump tells aides he has decide to remove Steve Bannon


    President Donald Trump has told senior aides that he has decided to remove Stephen Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Trump win the 2016 election, the New York Times reports, citing two administration officials briefed on the discussion.

    White House chief strategist Steve Bannon steps off Air Force One as he arrives Sunday at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Bannon was with President Donald Trump on his return trip from Florida. [Alex Brandon | Associated Press]
  5. The weeks' most compelling photos from Tampa Bay and Florida

    Human Interest

    Florida photos of the week for August 11 - August 18: Beach family yoga, Confederate symbols as flashpoints, American Idol winners and hopefuls, Fetish Con, the second oldest survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack turns 104, an armada of rubber ducks, and more.

    Jayden Sheene, 8, left, and Zoey Sheene, 6, rest atop at the arms and legs of their mother, Shelby Sheene, 27, of Holiday, while participating in a Beach Family Yoga gathering on Tuesday (8/15/17) at the Dunedin Causeway. The donation-based classes, hosted each Tuesday (10am), near the Sail Honeymoon rentals, were organized by area moms who wanted to practice yoga while providing an opportunity bond with their children through the spiritual and physical contact of the practice, which has its roots in ancient India. Yoga uses breathing techniques, poses and meditation to help improve health and happiness. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times)