A team effort between the Pasco County School District and Pasco County government to promote the extension of the Penny for Pasco sales tax has received a regional award.
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council recently recognized the effort at an awards banquet that hailed the campaign for its innovative approach that included presentations before citizens groups, educational video segments, utility bill inserts and signs placed at future transportation projects to be completed with Penny proceeds.
A political action committee also promoted the effort with signs, direct mail, a website, a Facebook page and e-newsletters.
On Election Day, 70 percent of those casting ballots voted "yes" for extending the tax.
"The success of this public outreach campaign initiative is now being shared with other local governments (Charlotte County) trying to renew their local government infrastructure surtax," the council said in its commemorative program describing all the winners of its 21st annual Future of the Region Awards. The Penny for Pasco campaign took first place in the public education category. Other awards were given for community service, cultural/sports/recreation, development and infrastructure, natural resources and the environment, and "going green."
The city of Zephyrhills took home an honorable mention in the "going green" category for a program called "Sustainable Zephyrhills." New Port Richey won an honorable mention in the public education category for its redesigned website, citynpr.org.
"The Penny Renewal Campaign was an outstanding team effort that included two public agencies and a dedicated group of private business interests working together. That team deserves this recognition for their outstanding efforts educating our citizens," said Michele Baker, chief assistant county administrator.
"Additionally," she said, "we would like to say thank you to the Pasco County citizens who welcomed us into their clubhouses and classrooms to speak and who ultimately voted 'yes' to support this critical investment in our community."
Voters first approved the 1-cent sales tax in 2004. It paid for road projects, sheriff's patrol cars, new school construction and renovations, and environmental lands.
The 10-year tax was set to expire in 2014 if voters had not approved an extension.
This isn't the first time Pasco has captured an award in the competition.
In 2011, the planning council gave its first ever One Bay award for Pasco's "New Smart Pasco Market Area Plan and Transit Oriented Development Amendments," a multipronged transformational planning program.
The program began in 2008 when the Pasco Economic Development Council initiated an agreement with the county to bring in an advisory panel from the Urban Land Institute. The institute study resulted in sweeping changes in the way the county handles development, including an updated land development code and mobility fee that replaced transportation impact fees and lowered costs for businesses.