Cut impact fees, help create jobs
Pasco County School Board member Cynthia Armstrong is leading a charge based on emotion and manipulation rather than fact. She accuses the building and real estate industry of cherry-picking the district budget when in fact we have held constructive meetings with School Board staff to discuss, review and understand the costs associated with operating the school district and have offered our expertise in assisting them in making good decisions, particularly when it comes to construction and remodeling/renovating.
There is a clear misunderstanding on the part of the public as to what school impact fees can be used for. This argument that teachers are going to lose their jobs and children's education is going to be compromised is baseless and irresponsible.
An e-mail sent out to school staff from the United School Employees of Pasco stated, "If the sources of revenue to pay construction debts are cut, the District will be forced to repay the loans with money from the operating budget, thus resulting in fewer funds for educating our students at a time when we're already facing record shortfalls and layoffs." This is simply untrue.
Impact fees can only be used for supplementing capacity through the construction of new schools. A smaller percentage of impact fees can be used for the purchase of land and debt service. At no time has Pasco County had to dip into its operating fund to address debt service, and according to its budget, the school district will have a surplus for each of the next three years. We are fortunate to have high-quality elected officials in Pasco County. But we must take exception to Ms. Armstrong's behavior and scare tactics to gain favoritism with a narrow segment of the population. This debate is over jobs and if she truly cares about children then she should also care equally about the children of unemployed construction workers. They make up a significant portion of those children who are underprivileged and in need of help. The best way to help them is get their parents back to work.
Jim Deitch, New Port Richey