Budget meeting set
By JAMES THORNER
© St. Petersburg Times,
Pasco County homeowners will learn as early as this morning whether their property tax rates will go up next year.
County commissioners are scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. in the West Pasco Government Center to make some of the last revisions to the 2001-2002 spending plan.
After about a month of budget chopping, commissioners were confident the 5.3 percent tax rate increase proposed by county budgeteers wouldn't be necessary.
"It'll be real close," commission Chairman Steve Simon said Tuesday.
The budget office proposed raising the rate from 9.13 mills to 9.61 mills.
That's $9.61 for every $1,000 of assessed property, or about $721 for a home assessed at $100,000 and eligible for a $25,000 homestead exemption.
Keeping next year's taxes at this year's rate has required snipping up to $7-million from the initial $530-million budget presented in July.
About $2-million vanished from the budget when commissioners decided to spread over several years the cost of $4.5-million in new voting machines.
Just this week, commissioners agreed to scale back the $3.4-million in increases sought by Sheriff Bob White.
White also figured in $4-million worth of construction projects commissioners postponed for a year, including a sheriff's communications center in New Port Richey and a forensic lab in Land O'Lakes.
Also helping matters: The county's tax base grew $1-billion this year, bringing in more than $9-million in new property taxes without a rate increase.
Commissioners will hold a final budget hearing at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 25 in New Port Richey. The 2001-2002 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
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