Pasco County’s revenues are falling short of projections — in the wake of a flattened economy due to the impacts of COVID-19.
Robert Goehig, budget director for Pasco County, presented an overview of the preliminary budget at the Pasco County Commission’s June 30 meeting.
In essence, the county can afford just 11 of 115 business plan initiatives brought forth by its department heads, Goehig said.
Among those initiatives is a 2% raise for county employees.
The size of the proposed raise received pushback from County Commissioner Mike Wells.
Wells told County Administrator Dan Biles: “You know the state is giving 3%. I believe almost all of the constitutionals (county constitutional officers) are doing 3%. There is nothing more important on this budget than taking care of our folks. We have to take care of our team. I would like to see that be 3%. I think that’s an extra half-million.”
Biles explained: “The reason we stayed at the 2% is because that basically matches the inflation rate, which was 2.1% last year. We also wanted to be mindful of what is going on in the rest of the community, as well.”
Commission Chairman Mike Moore and Jack Mariano said they’re willing to keep the issue open for further discussion.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, however, backed Biles’ approach.
Starkey said she appreciates the staff’s efforts, but she added: “I am OK with the 2% for this year, and if things get better next year, back up to 3%.”
Pasco’s decreasing revenues reflect what’s happening across the national economy, Goehig said. “When things are going well in the economy, nationwide, they are really going well in Pasco and in the state of Florida, as a whole. But, when things tank, they really tank in Florida.
“Our economy is so dependent on tourism,” Goehig said.
The county is expecting a decrease of 25% in its Tourism Development Tax Fund and is decreasing the budget in that category to reflect the reduced revenues, Goehig said.
The budget also reflects a 12% decrease in Fire Rescue.
“We had some plan initiatives that we implemented in fiscal year 2020, but because of the reductions in revenues, won’t be able to move forward with those,” Goehig said.
He also outlined changes in the budgets for the county’s constitutional officers.
The Sheriff’s Office will get about a 5% increase. The property appraiser’s budget is going down because of savings it has achieved — through improved technologies.
The Clerk & Comptroller’s budget is about even, while the Supervisor of Elections’ is expected to increase by 1.2%.
Goehig noted that the Supervisor of Elections’ budget doesn’t reflect an additional $1.2 million from the CARES fund it will receive to provide for safe elections through social distancing, masks and those types of measures.
Commissioners are expected to sets the county’s Truth in Millage rate at the board’s July 14 meeting. This process lets county residents and businesses know the maximum ad valorem rate that could be adopted in September, when the board adopts its budget. The final rate that’s approved can be lower, but cannot be higher than the rate adopted in July.
Initiatives included in Pasco budget
- Additional Attorney and Paralegal
- Starkey Library Opening
- Starkey District Park Contractual Obligations
- Recreational Program at Dade City Armory
- Central Facilities Building Design
- Paramedic School (at PHSC) for Firefighter/EMTs
- Prepare for the Opening of Fire Station 42 in fiscal year 2022
- Pasco Economic Development Council
- Employee Wage Raise (2%) to Keep Pace with Inflation
- Procurement Management Software
- Initiate Comprehensive Plan Update
Published July 08, 2020