When the Pasco County Commission decided to reduce its property tax millage rate, the board said budget cuts should be across the board, including the county’s constitutional offices.
At the commission’s Oct. 24 meeting, though, Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano presented another idea to the board.
Every year, Fasano’s office estimates how much it will be able to save and give back to the county.
“We had proposed that we would give you back about $2.4 million. We’re giving you back today about $3.6 million,” Fasano said.
At that, there was applause and Commissioner Seth Weightman rang a bell, signaling approval of the good news.
“I got a bell,” Fasano said, surprised. “Normally, when people come into our office and put money into our charities, in the bucket, the bell goes off. It’s nice that we’re bringing you money and your bell is going off here.”
Fasano reminded the board that in the past 10 years his office has given back more than $24 million.
“But today, I come before you with an ask.”
He asked the board to “make whole” the Sheriff’s Office, the Pasco County Clerk & Comptroller’s Office and the Supervisor of Elections Office, which all suffered budget cuts when the board voted to reduce the millage rate during its recent budget deliberations.
That move was made to reduce the sting of higher taxes due to the increase for the Fire Municipal Services Taxing Unit, and when the cut was made, the board decided the pain of the cuts should be shared.
In making his case for restoring the cuts to the sheriff, clerk and elections offices, Fasano noted: “Each of them, of course, had to put a budget together and rely on what they thought they were going to get, hoped they were going to get, based on what they need.
“We have a sheriff that’s trying to make certain that he protects our community, as it grows. Public safety should always be No. 1.
“We have a supervisor of elections that does provide the best, the best service when it comes time for elections. When the elections come in at night, where does everybody look? The first one, Pasco County, to see what direction Florida is going.
“We have a clerk of the court, like the tax collector, who sees thousands of people each month.”
As Fasano prepared to give the check to the county, he said: “So, I present this check to you with an ask, and hopefully, maybe with a motion, and a second, to use some of these dollars to make those constitutional officers whole, as you did yourselves.
“I will present the clerk with a check and also some documents, and hopefully, before I go back to the podium, I’ll hear a motion.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey: “I would make that motion to accept the check and to use this to make this as a payment to cover all of our losses, in the rollback.”
Weightman added: “I’ll happily second that, and thank you Senator (Fasano is a former state senator), for being a fiscal watchdog and bringing some good news to us today. I was proud to ring the bell in your honor.”
The board voted 4-0, with Commission Chairman Jack Mariano absent.
The action restored about $34,000 in funding for the clerk’s office, about $24,000 in funding for the election supervisor’s office and about $600,000 for the sheriff’s office, Fasano said, in an interview after the meeting.
He said he decided to make the request because he saw an opportunity to try to help his fellow constitutional officers and thought he should pursue it.
The tax collector also said he was pleased by the county board’s response.
Published November 01, 2023