Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Here's your primer on the Penny for Pasco

Buried down at the bottom of a lengthy ballot is a question to continue the Penny for Pasco sales tax.

The stakes outweigh the ballot placement. At issue is a little more than $500 million over the next decade for the county, school district and Pasco's cities.

"People who are well informed understand the importance of this Penny for Pasco continuation," said Stew Gibbons, co-chairman of a pro-Penny citizen committee that has dotted roadways with signs, sent out fliers and scheduled speakers at community groups.

Voters first approved the Penny in March 2004, raising the sales tax on most purchases in Pasco from 6 percent to 7 percent. Tax collections will run through the end of 2014 and are on track to raise roughly $421 million. About $113 million goes to the Pasco school district to reimburse it for a property tax rollback it offered if voters approved the sales tax hike. Of the rest, the county and school district each get 45 percent, and the six municipalities split the remainder based on population.

The school district's share was pledged to repay construction bonds that built eight new schools and rehabbed 10 others during a building boom in the mid-2000s. The county used its share for road improvements, environmental land purchases and public safety equipment. Another 5 percent was set aside for reserves and construction overruns. The cities used a combined $30 million for various infrastructure projects.

Why is the extension coming up early? Officials were criticized in 2004 for placing the referendum on that year's Democratic presidential primary ballot. This time around, supporters put it on the ballot alongside the presidential election to get the largest number of voters weighing in on the renewal.

Scheduling the vote two years from now also wouldn't give officials much time to plan for the passage or failure of the tax.

If voters approve, the renewal would continue the tax at the same rate, collecting an estimated $502 million through 2024.

The breakdown for the second round is largely the same, but there is one significant change. The tax rollback is no longer included because the Legislature capped the school district's capital tax rate after the Penny first passed. For the second round of the Penny, school officials calculated they could not afford to lower the property tax rate even further.

The county and school district would each get an estimated $226 million of the proceeds, and the cities would split $50 million.

About three-quarters of the schools' share would be spent on renovation and remodeling projects at 18 schools. Another 15 percent would be used for technology upgrades, and the rest would go toward parking improvements, playground equipment and remodeling career academies.

The county plans to spend $90 million on transportation projects such as intersection improvements, walking and biking trails and public transportation equipment. Environmental land acquisition and public safety equipment would each get $45 million.

This round includes one new category: $45 million for economic development. That money can be used for incentives to lure companies, help build a business incubator or add infrastructure to a proposed commercial site.

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

.Fast facts

On the ballot

The ballot language for the Penny for Pasco will appear as follows:

2015 Penny For Pasco to Fund Job Creation, Public Safety, Environmental Lands, Infrastructure, and Education

Shall a One-Cent Sales Surtax continue to be levied, beginning in 2015, to fund public infrastructure to 2024, and shared among Pasco County Schools (45%), Pasco County (45%), and Pasco's Cities (10%) for: Job Creation and Economic Development Projects (pursuant to Section 212.005(2)(d)3, Florida Statutes); Public Safety facilities, vehicles and equipment; acquiring Environmentally Sensitive Lands; school technology, career academies, and Educational Facilities Improvements; infrastructure related to Transportation and Safety; and public infrastructure within the Cities?

Here's your primer on the Penny for Pasco 10/20/12 [Last modified: Saturday, October 20, 2012 2:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bar review: Attic Cafe and Bar, brews with views of downtown Tampa

    Bars & Spirits

    It's ironic that Tampa Bay WaVE — an entrepreneur incubator with an eye on growing Tampa's tech startups — keeps its offices in a century-old building originally used as an auditorium for the adjacent Masonic Lodge.

    One big plus at the Attic Cafe & Bar is its patio and balcony, where you can spy City Hall and a few other landmarks in downtown Tampa. Local history also figures prominently.
  2. Local craft beer of the week: Joosy Froot IPA from Tampa Bay Beer Works

    Bars & Spirits

    Tampa Beer Works has always been a bit of an odd duck. Originally opened as ESB Brewing Co. by the owners of the adjacent homebrew supply store, the company rebranded and reopened last year with a new name, new head brewer, new recipes and a new brewing philosophy. This includes a range of beers treated with novel …

    Photo by Justin Grant/special to tbt*
  3. 'There's nothing left': $253,000 worth of missing pianos stirs outrage


    Lisa Williams was going through a messy divorce. Money was tight. She had to move to a smaller house, but there was no room for the beloved Schimmel baby grand piano she bought for her daughter two decades ago.

    Lisa Williams of Pinellas Park is one of several people who had their pianos stolen, and then lost the money they were supposed to get for them. Largo police are saying they were ripped off through a scheme run by the owner of a defunct piano shop in Clearwater.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. MacDill tanker crews keep fighter planes in the air during the battle against ISIS


    AL UDEID AIR BASE, QATAR — Settled into the cockpit, headed for the combat zone of Iraq, the three-man crew from MacDill Air Force Base can't wait to get in the air.

    But wait they must.

     Air Force Capt. Doug Karl (L) and Maj. Ryan Jahnke check landing coordinates on their tablets as they fly toward Royal Air Force Mildenhall from MacDill Air Force Base. [HOWARD ALTMAN  |  Times
  5. Lifestyle changes to stave off Alzheimer's? Hints, no proof


    WASHINGTON — There are no proven ways to stave off Alzheimer's, but a new report raises the prospect that avoiding nine key risks starting in childhood just might delay or even prevent about a third of dementia cases around the world.

    In this Oct. 7, 2003, file photo, a section of a human brain with Alzheimer's disease is on display at the Museum of Neuroanatomy at the University at Buffalo, in Buffalo, N.Y. There are no proven ways to stave off Alzheimer's, but a new report raises the prospect that avoiding nine risks starting in childhood just might delay or even prevent about a third of dementia cases. [AP Photo/David Duprey, File]