Pasco voters renew Penny for Pasco sales tax
By Ronnie Blair | Tribune StaffLAND O' LAKES - The Penny for Pasco sales tax that has helped build schools, improve roads and pay for other improvements will be renewed for another 10 years.
Published: November 6, 2012
Published: November 6, 2012
Voters decided by an overwhelming majority Tuesday to extend the tax for another decade. About 70 percent of those casting ballots said they wanted to keep the Penny in place.
Hutch Brock, co-chairman of a citizens committee that promoted the Penny, said it was heartening that so many voters showed their support for the tax and the "quality of life" it helps bring to the county.
The Penny for Pasco referendum was the last item on a lengthy ballot, and supporters had worried that voters might not get to it. But large numbers of voters did weigh in on the Penny.
The Penny even drew more voters than some constitutional amendments.
"I guess they did find us," Brock said.
Originally approved by voters in 2004, Penny for Pasco increased the sales tax in the county from 6 cents to 7 cents for 10 years.
The current Penny expires at the end of 2014, and that's why government leaders in Pasco pushed for the 10-year renewal to extend the tax through the end of 2024.
Local governments faced organized and vocal opposition to the Penny during the original campaign in 2004, but that didn't emerge this go-round.
The school board and the county commission each receive 45 percent of the Penny proceeds. The remaining 10 percent is divided among the municipalities, with population determining how much they receive.
The original Penny helped build schools, such as Veterans Elementary in Wesley Chapel; provided funding for road construction projects; purchased ambulances; and bought environmental lands, such as the Cypress Creek property, among other uses.
Government officials estimated that, if extended, the Penny could generate about $502.3 million over the additional 10 years. They made plans ahead of time for how to spend the money.
The school district targeted its $226 million share for building renovations and technology upgrades at schools throughout the county.
Some of the more extensive efforts would include a $22 million remodeling project at Zephyrhills High, a $10.1 million remodeling project at Quail Hollow Elementary in Wesley Chapel and a $6.8 million remodeling project at Cox Elementary in Dade City.
The county commission, also expecting to receive $226 million, developed a list with an assortment of projects, such as the purchase of fire trucks and law enforcement vehicles; construction of bicycle and pedestrian trails; safety and operation improvements at more than a dozen intersections; acquisition of more environmental lands; and an effort to improve the county's jobs outlook and economic opportunities.
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