Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco residents' emails blast proposed tax hikes

NEW PORT RICHEY — Raymond Androne of Land O'Lakes said it's "unconscionable."

Dianne Roberts of Wesley Chapel called the proposed tax increase "an OUTRAGE."

And David Netz of Land O'Lakes said raising taxes would burden homeowners on fixed incomes like himself.

County officials are mulling a 5-cent gas tax increase and a 9.3 percent bump to the property tax rate in the 2013-14 budget, prompting some residents to fire off angry emails to commissioners last week.

Many lamented how higher taxes would derail the still-fragile economic recovery. Others like Brian Esselbach of Land O'Lakes struck a personal tone.

"I still have no job," Esselbach wrote. "We are still struggling to keep … all payments up on our home. Sorry to be so blunt, but this is scary."

Most stuck to a familiar theme: undisciplined government spending amid shaky economic times.

"(If) the county wants to afford to pay its bills, do what every homeowner has had to do without choice, cut spending," Roberts wrote to commissioners July 12.

Another writer, Jeannie James, said government "has an open checkbook with OUR POCKETS!"

County Administrator Michele Baker unveiled the fiscal blueprint July 9. She called the $1.16 billion plan "a flat budget" that basically maintains the current level of services. Not raising the rate would mean $17 million in cuts, she said.

Under budget rules, commissioners have until Tuesday to set the maximum tax rate and until late September to finalize the plan, which goes into effect Oct. 1.

All that is academic, however, to some residents worried about the bottom line.

If approved, the budget will force a homeowner whose property is valued at $150,000 and has a $50,000 exemption to pay an additional $64 per year in property taxes.

That's on top of a proposed $18 increase in fire and rescue services and a hike in gas taxes estimated to cost drivers $65 per year.

About 15 residents sent emails to commissioners. None of the missives was vulgar, though a few hinted at political retribution at the polls if the budget passes with the tax hikes.

Commissioners said they've taken only a handful of calls.

At a workshop last week in Dade City, Commissioner Pat Mulieri asked Baker for talking points to better explain to citizens the budget process and past spending plans, which have stayed austere for years to match falling home values.

The new plan includes a 3 percent raise for most county employees and another $1.9 million to expand the jail. Also included, a mandated $4 million contribution to the state's pension system.

Commissioners haven't said whether they'll back any or all of the proposed spending increases, though Mulieri signaled at least some support for county workers.

"Some of these people haven't had a raise in six years," she said.

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey noted the county at some point must invest in infrastructure like roads and landscaping to attract jobs and continue to develop.

Some residents, she said, believe it's realistic to cut services year after year without letup. Starkey said she disagrees.

"I'm not going to have one fire truck with one firefighter," she said. "That's not my vision for Pasco."

Rich Shopes can be reached at or (727) 869-6236.

Pasco residents' emails blast proposed tax hikes 07/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 19, 2013 5:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75


    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.