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PASCO SCHOOL BUDGET STARTS AS A WISH LIST

LAND O'LAKES

The Pasco School Board went through the motions Tuesday of giving initial approval to a $1.2-billion budget for 2007-08.

About the only thing that anyone could count on, though, was a 20-cent dip in the tax rate, thanks to a $3.9-billion increase in the county's property values. The owner of a $225,000 home, who claims a $25,000 homestead exemption, would pay $1,441.60, a $40.20 drop.

Otherwise, the budget represented hope rather than reality.

"This is the budget we wish we would have," chairwoman Marge Whaley told the audience. "If you're reading the paper at all, you know that I know that we don't know how much money we're going to get. And we won't know until the (legislative) special session in September."

State economists have projected a revenue shortfall of more than $1-billion. That estimate is due to be updated today.

CLEARWATER

Assistant city manager resigns for job in Texas

Assistant City Manager Garry Brumback resigned Tuesday to take over the top job for a midsize Texas city that's facing issues similar to Clearwater's.

Brumback, 50, an eight-year Clearwater veteran, will become city manager of Baytown shortly after Labor Day. He plans to leave his Clearwater post in early September.

Baytown is a waterfront town of 70,000 about 30 miles east of Houston.

Brumback, who makes $130,000 in Clearwater, is still negotiating his contract with Baytown.

TAMPA

Picnic Island Beach is safe for swimmers

Officials have reopened the beach at Picnic Island Park for swimming. Analysis of a water sample taken Monday showed safe levels of bacteria.

The Hillsborough County Health Department had closed the beach after finding a potentially dangerous concentration of bacteria in a July 23 sample.

TAMPA

2 retrievers adopted, puppies in foster care

Two dogs from a pack of golden retrievers seized Monday have been adopted, said Hillsborough County Animal Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan.

The 17 purebreds were found in filthy conditions at the house of 65-year-old Tim Sexton of 1307 Eckles Drive, Ryan said.

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay has placed the youngest dogs, 11 8-week-old puppies, in foster care to recover from worms and malnourishment. Once the puppies are healthy enough to be sterilized, the Society will put them up for adoption, Ryan said.

A 4-year-old adult female is also up for general adoption at the Animal Services shelter. A fourth adult female is going to a local animal rescue group, Astorling Sanctuary in Brooksville.

Sexton refused to surrender the oldest dogs, a female and male, but Ryan said he has little chance of keeping them.

Sexton was being held in the Orient Road jail Tuesday, with bail set at $2,000, charged with 17 counts of improper confinement of animals.

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