Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco's Republican commissioners find a lot to like about stimulus money

DADE CITY — Tuesday morning, and all eyes were on Tampa and the Republican National Convention, Ground Zero in the push to replace President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, about an hour north, Pasco County commissioners did some actual governing at the historic courthouse in Dade City. They ironed out several details in next year's county budget. They also got a jolt of good news about the county's power bills.

Two years ago, Pasco snagged a $4.2 million federal grant to install dozens of energy-efficient upgrades at county buildings. Some examples: upgraded air conditioning and heating systems, solar-reflecting roofs, the new revolving doors at the West Pasco courthouse. There's even a new system at the Pasco jail that will dramatically cut water usage.

While national energy costs keep climbing, Facilities Department supervisor Andrew Baxter said, "our energy costs are decreasing."

Pasco got an even bigger boost because county staffers implemented the projects themselves, instead of farming out the work to a consultant. That means a bigger share of the grant went toward cutting energy usage.

The project is saving some real cash. The savings have enabled the county to set aside $300,000 less for next year's power bill.

The five Republican commissioners applauded the good news. Commissioner Pat Mulieri even suggested sending a letter thanking Tampa Bay's congressional delegation, explaining that the money was put to good use and is saving tax dollars.

One hiccup. The grant was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus bill that received no support from Florida's congressional Republicans. County Administrator John Gallagher laughed as he said the letter might be more appropriately addressed to President Obama.

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

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