Sheriff’s budget won’t grow
Pasco County commissioners spent hours whittling away at different portions of the county’s $1.16 billion budget last week, but didn’t make a dent in a proposed tax hike.
Based on the county’s proposed millage rate, officials say the owner of a $100,000 house, assuming a $50,000 exemption, would pay $33 more a year.
Scores of taxpayers have contacted commissioners voicing opposition, but commissioners continue to move forward with the proposed increase.
The proposed property tax rate is 7.49 mills, up from last year’s rate of 6.86 mills. The proposed municipal fire rate is 1.71 mills, up from 1.54 mills last year. Each mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable value.
Commissioners did not reduce the proposed rates, despite rejecting a request by Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco to increase his $91 million budget by $500,000.
The sheriff initially proposed a $93 million budget. County officials recommended a $91 million budget, then Nocco came and asked commissioners for $500,000 more. However, commissioners noted the sheriff’s budget has continued to go up, while other county departments absorbed cuts.
“I think he’s got to learn to live within his budget,” Commissioner Pat Mulieri said. “I just think there is a limit.”
While rejecting the half-million bump, commissioners agreed to Nocco’s request to use Penny for Pasco funds to purchase unmarked detective cars and other sheriff’s office vehicles.
While they didn’t lower the proposed tax rate, commissioners made about $700,000 in cuts in the proposed budget to plug an unexpected revenue gap. The changes were needed because Mike Fasano, the county’s newly appointed tax collector, informed the county that it had overestimated the amount of money his office would return to the county by about $720,000.
Fasano recently assumed the office that was held by Mike Olson, who died suddenly in June.
To help balance their proposed budget, commissioners trimmed an allocation for a master facilities plan, eliminated a proposal to beef up code enforcement, reduced the amount of funding for a communications office among other things. They’re still about $52,000 from where they need to be.
Commissioner Henry Wilson, who voted against the tentative tax rate in July, remains opposed. “I still can’t support this,” he said.
Commission Chairman Ted Schrader told Wilson that he’s being disingenuous, unless he can recommend specific budget cuts.
“I have not completed looking at the book,” Wilson said. “I’m still trying to figure out places to cut.”
Commissioners are set to have their first public hearing on the proposed budget on Sept. 10, with a second and final hearing on Sept. 24.