NEW PORT RICHEY — So you don't like libraries being closed two days a week. Or perhaps you think recreation centers should remain open at night. Or maybe the most pressing issue facing the county is residential road paving.
Whatever that important issue is, county officials want to hear about it before they start crafting a budget during the toughest fiscal year in decades.
"The goal is to find out what works and what needs improvement in county government, as well as gauge public opinion on the county's efforts to deal with an expected $28.8 million shortfall in revenue," a statement says.
The outreach effort includes three initiatives: citizen surveys, focus groups and stakeholder meetings. This month, the National Citizen Survey, on behalf of the county, will mail more than 1,200 surveys to random residents. The survey includes a series of questions on service areas and quality of service delivered. The survey also includes questions on the key strategic issues facing Pasco County.
Next week, the county will host a series of focus group and stakeholder meetings. Focus groups are small groups of 10 to 12 people with similar interests. Among the groups to be targeted are students and young people, business owners, retirees, disabled persons, agri-businesses, social service workers, teachers, parents and a variety of other business and community interest groups. Attendance at focus groups is by invitation.
The county will also seek input from citizens, elected officials, county employees, users of county services and anyone else who is interested in providing feedback via stakeholder meetings. These meetings are open to the public, although RSVPs are strongly recommended. To RSVP, call (727) 847-8115.
Stakeholder meetings have been scheduled as follows:
• East Pasco residents and businesses: 7 to 9 p.m. March 30 at Pasco-Hernando Community College east campus auditorium, 36727 Blanton Road, Dade City.
• Growth management and economic development stakeholders: 7 to 9 p.m. April 1, PHCC west campus, performing arts center auditorium, 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey.
• West Pasco residents and businesses: 7 to 9 p.m. April 13, PHCC west campus, performing arts center auditorium, 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey.
• Central Pasco residents and businesses: 7 to 9 p.m. April 15, Sunlake High School Cafeteria, 3023 Sunlake Blvd., Land O'Lakes.
• Elected officials (county commissioners, city councils, constitutional officers, School Board, legislative delegation, etc.): 7 to 9 p.m. May 4, PHCC west campus, performing arts center auditorium, 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey.
The stakeholder meetings will use handheld electronic voting technology to tabulate attendees' views. Topics include the quality of county services, key issues facing the county over the next few years, possible cuts in services or increases in property tax rates to deal with the revenue shortfalls.
Results of the outreach effort will be posted on the county's Web site, www.pascocountyfl.net, under the LEAP Into Excellence link.
Helping the county in this process will be the International City/County Management Association, consultants hired in January to help with the LEAP project. LEAP stands for Lean, Efficient, Accountable Pasco. The initiative was begun in the fall of 2007 to improve customer service, increase efficiency and reduce expenditures.
ICMA will be working with county commissioners and key staff to develop a vision and strategic plan for the county.
All Pasco County residents are encouraged to be involved in the process and share their opinions. For more information, visit www.pascocountyfl.net and click on the LEAP button. To send feedback, click on the customer comment card link on the left of the page or e-mail to customerservice@ pascocountyfl.net.