Pasco projects: Recreation & Aquatic Center, parks, camp

Published May 7, 2007

New Port Richey will open its Recreation & Aquatic Center this month in part thanks to $1-million from the Legislature. City Manager Scott Miller worries how long its doors will be open.

Lawmakers budgeted the money to repay the cost to make the center usable as a hurricane shelter, aside from swimming pools and a double gymnasium.

But the rest of the $14.1-million cost will be paid from property tax revenue the Legislature has targeted to be cut.

New Port Richey will pay off debt on the center and other projects with revenue due to property tax growth since 2001. That $4.2-million annually could dry up if lawmakers in Tallahassee cut tax rates enough.

"We'd default paying the notes" for the project, Miller said.

Pasco County had $7.5-million budgeted to lure high-paying jobs. County commissioners promised to give $2.5-million, too, but might do it on a slimmer budget. The money probably would come from the tax-laden general fund, budget chief Mike Nurrenbrock said.

Lawmakers also approved local requests for $412, 500 for four park projects in Pasco. Local officials have fretted that park services might face cuts if taxes decrease.

Port Richey is set to get $50, 000 to remove a seawall and install tiki huts, a trail and picnic tables at Oelsner Park. Wilmslow Park will get $50, 000 for a trail, parking and a gazebo. City officials had said they would not otherwise improve the parks.

Lawmakers also funneled money to nonprofit agencies, including $50, 000 each for a summer camp for mentally disabled children and a center for troubled adolescents.

DAVID DECAMP, Times staff writer