The Pasco County Commission has decided that a quarter-million-dollar expenditure would be better spent on helping to feed the county’s food-insecure elderly than for helping to pay for a food storage facility in neighboring Hillsborough County.
Pasco board members previously discussed a $250,000 budget recommendation to help support the Feeding Tampa Bay project during a budget presentation. The proposed allocation would earmark $125,000 a year, for two years, to support the outside agency.
Commissioner Mike Moore raised objections to the proposal.
He balked at using Pasco County taxpayer funds for a capital project in another county.
Moore also warned colleagues that approving the request could trigger requests from a parade of organizations seeking support for projects outside of Pasco County.
No action was taken during the previous discussion, but the issue was part of the board’s Aug. 9 agenda.
Brian Hoben, the county’s director of community services, provided an overview of the county’s home-delivered meal program for food-insecure elderly.
Hoben said there are 411 people currently on the waitlist for that program.
The number fluctuates as new people qualify for the service and current clients die, move into a facility or move away from the county, Hoben said.
Each delivered meal costs $8.01, Hobel said.
Providing one meal a day for a year costs $2,916, Hoben said. To eliminate the current waiting list would cost $1,198,328, based on current costs. Those costs would be recurring, once the client joins the list.
Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano attended the Aug. 9 meeting to inform the board that Feeding Tampa Bay had sold a building, on Ehren Cutoff, that initially was paid for with taxpayer funds.
Fasano, a former state lawmaker and a board member on Feeding Pasco’s Elderly, told the board that he helped secure funds to build the original food bank building on Ehren Cutoff.
That food bank later gave the building to another food bank, which then gave the building to Feeding Tampa Bay, Fasano said.
Then, Feeding Tampa Bay sold the building to a private company for $890,000, Fasano said.
“I’d love to know where that money went,” Fasano said.
“Just think of how many people we could have fed in Pasco County. How many seniors we could have taken off that waiting list,” Fasano said.
Pasco County Property Appraiser Mike Wells, a former county commissioner, also is on Feeding Pasco’s Elderly board. He told the county board that $125,000 for the next two years would feed 42 seniors who are on the waitlist for services.
Moore said he would not have objected to Feeding Tampa Bay’s request, if it had been for a specific number of meals that would be provided to Pasco residents.
But Moore added: “There’s no way in the world I’m ever going to say yes to a capital project in another county that’s going to provide services that aren’t going to benefit the citizens of Pasco County.”
Commissioner Ron Oakley agreed: “I shouldn’t be paying for their infrastructure in another county. I want to help the citizens in Pasco County. I will do everything I can to help our citizens before I send money to build a building in another county,” Oakley said.
Commissioner Jack Mariano said that when Feeding Tampa Bay was making the decision to sell the building on Ehren Cutoff, the county should have been notified.
“As far as I’m concerned at this point, we made a $890,000 donation. I think we’ve made our contribution,” Mariano said.
Instead of contributing the funds to Feeding Tampa Bay, Moore said they should be earmarked for Feeding Pasco’s Elderly efforts or the county’s senior services.
His colleagues agreed.
Published August 17, 2022