Deadline approaching for county budget

Crunch time is approaching for Pasco County’s 2019 budget.

On June 5, Pasco County commissioners got a look at a draft budget as part of their review process.

Crucial dates are coming up, including a July 10 deadline to set the millage rate, which determines how much homeowners will pay in taxes.

No increase in millage is expected. However, some will pay higher tax bills because of general increases in property values.

County officials anticipate that the average, single-family homeowner will pay almost $16 more into the general fund on a homesteaded property valued at $100,000. The cost will increase about $3.80 for the fire fund.

Owners of non-homesteaded property will pay almost $65 more to the general fund, and about $15.35 to the fire fund.

New revenues from property taxes are expected to increase by about 8.5 percent for the general fund, adding about $10.5 million to county coffers.

Those funds are evenly divided between the county and its constitutional offices, and the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

New construction is fueling a large share of the increased tax revenue.

However, a Nov. 8 referendum to add another $25,000 exemption to homesteaded property is expected to adversely affect the county’s 2020 budget — if the measure passes, and county officials are expecting it to pass.

The loss to the county’s general fund in 2020 would be about $12 million, and about $2.4 million for the fire fund.

Funding temporary housing for inmates at the Land O’ Lakes Detention Center is one of the immediate challenges facing the Pasco County Commission.

By 2020, projections put inmate population at nearly 2,400 a day. The facility was built to house about 1,400 inmates, and already exceeds that number.

The draft budget includes about $2.4 million for the cost of temporary onsite housing; and another $2.5 million to pay other counties to house Pasco inmates in their jails.

Currently, there remains about $3.3 million in unfunded budget needs at the sheriff’s office.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco struck a positive note on the matter.

“It’s very tricky, but we’re getting there,” Nocco told county commissioners. “I know we’re going to get there in the end.”

Other big ticket items include about $2.8 million for repairs and capital improvements for public buildings; $1.4 million for Medicaid, retirement and health insurance; and $1 million for deferred maintenance of parks that are in danger of closing.

County officials peg deferred maintenance costs at parks at about $24 million.

“So, that’s not even treading water there,” said Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey.

Published June 13, 2018

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