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Pasco Referendums: Voters approve four ballot measures for $241 million in capital projects returns

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Pasco County voters approved new long-term debt and higher property taxes for public safety and leisure services on Tuesday.

By wide margins, voters supported three of four separate bond issues for fire stations, libraries and parks.

The expanded jail, the most expensive element of the $241 million capital spending plan, was approved by just 1,596 votes out of more than 193,000 cast on that issue, according to unofficial returns.

The referendums establish separate property tax rates totaling .6107 mills, or just less than 62 cents per $1,000 of taxable property, to pay for a 1,000-bed jail expansion, build nine fire stations, maintain parks and refurbish existing libraries.
In interviews Tuesday, many voters indicated they had mixed feelings about the tax issues.
David Johnson, 64, of Land O’ Lakes, said he voted for three of the referendums, but not the $132 million plan to expand the jail.
“I don’t think that needs to be improved,’’ said Johnson, a nurse at Tampa General Hospital.
Dianna Laffe, 54, a Democrat said she supported all the referendums, but not the $18.6 million to remodel libraries.
“I just feel like the need for libraries has declined with improvements in technology,’’ she said.
Lonnie Quiles, 20, who is not affiliated with either major party, voted yes for the libraries and the $70 million for the fire department, but no on the jail and the $20 million for parks.
“Jails need more than money being thrown at them,’’ he said.
But others were unanimous in a need to better Pasco.
“I voted yes on all four. I figure the county does need to improve and that this was an opportunity to do that,’’ said Charles Wood, 35, a Republican.
“I voted yes on all of them only because I really feel Pasco County need it. They have to have these kind of improvements,’’ said Jennifer Evenson, 42.
Jay Canals, 53, and his wife, Kim, 47, didn’t agree in the voting booth. He supported all four referendums. She opposed the measures on the parks and jail.
“I  just didn’t think the parks really need it,’’ she said.

The county spent $123,000 for an Orlando consultant to do public opinion polling, town hall meetings, social media outreach and advertising to inform voters about the bond issues. The proposals drew no public objections during a public hearing in June and few attended the first of four town hall meetings in early October.

For national and statewide election results check out The Buzz

For local election results check out the Bay Buzz

For school board election results check out The Gradebook.