Pasco school board OKs $2 billion budget

New property tax rate includes a voter-approved bump to boost school employee pay.
The Pasco County School Board, shown at a meeting in January, approved a $1.99 billion budget on Monday.
The Pasco County School Board, shown at a meeting in January, approved a $1.99 billion budget on Monday. [ ANGELICA EDWARDS | Times ]
Published Sept. 12|Updated Sept. 12

Pasco County property owners will see their school district tax bills rise this fall, thanks to a tax referendum that voters approved a year ago.

The school board on Monday approved a $1.99 billion budget that includes a local property tax rate of $6.449 per $1,000 of taxable value. The owner of a $350,000 home with a homestead exemption would see their bill rise by $303 from a year ago.

A handful of residents told the board during a public hearing that they were distressed upon seeing their Truth In Millage notices, which showed large increases in their bills.

Superintendent Kurt Browning noted that without the voter referendum, which is projected to generate about $53 million for employee pay, the tax rate would have gone down by 6.7 cents per $1,000 of taxable value.

Employees currently are receiving pay from that initiative, which remains in effect for four years before requiring renewal.

Chief finance officer Tammy Taylor noted that the Truth In Millage notice was written in a different format than in 2022, which generated calls from confused residents. She said the line including discretionary local effort was placed in a different line than usual, which made it look like the state was decreasing the rate while the district was significantly boosting its level.

She said the tax collector’s office would correct information for the actual tax bills.

The budget includes $997.8 million for general operations, a 10.5% increase from a year earlier. The amount includes $12 million for staff at new schools, $7 million for higher retirement contributions, and $3 million for health insurance increases.

The bulk of the budget — just under 93% — goes toward school-level services.

The district’s capital projects budget of $520.5 million is down $14 million, or 2.6%, from a year earlier.

The board adopted the budget and tax rates unanimously.

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