What is the millage referendum about?

The ballot initiative to increase the millage rate for schools is intended to raise funds to improve non-administrative salaries for school district employees (teachers, bus drivers, teacher assistants, food service workers, etc.) The ability to offer better pay will have a direct effect on students. Right now low pay and staffing shortages result in late buses and reduced bus service, and an over-reliance on substitute teachers.

 

Why is this additional funding needed?

Salaries for Pasco County Schools employees are not competitive with surrounding school districts. Other school districts, including neighboring Pinellas and Hernando counties, already have additional revenue for salaries because their voters approved a similar referendum. As a result, Pasco is losing employees to other districts that offer better pay, and struggles to recruit new employees.

 

When will the referendum be on the ballot?

August 23, 2022.

 

What does the ballot language say?

Shall the District School Board of Pasco County levy an additional operational ad valorem millage not to exceed one mill beginning July 1, 2023, and ending no later than June 30, 2027, for essential operating expenses to maintain salaries competitive with the market, attract and retain high-quality teachers, bus drivers, and other non-administrative school support employees and with annual reporting to Pasco County taxpayers for transparency of the use of these funds.

 

Is the Pasco school district running a deficit or otherwise struggling financially?

No. The school district gets high marks for being fiscally responsible. The bond rating organization, Fitch, has awarded Pasco Schools an A+ rating, saying: “ “Budget management during periods of economic recovery has been strong. District finances have been well managed and stable … benefiting from conservative budgeting ….” The district lives within its means. Other districts simply have additional revenue due to similar ballot initiatives, and can offer higher salaries.

 

How much can a homeowner expect to pay?

One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of property value. Pasco County’s median home value is approximately $325,000. So – after you subtract $25,000 that is not taxable due to the homestead exemption – a millage increase of 1 mill will cost the average homeowner $300 annually, or $25 a month. If your home is valued at $200,000, it would cost $175 annually or $14.58 a month.

 

Could the additional levy be less than one mill?

Yes. The ballot language provides for additional ad valorem millage “not to exceed one mill.” That means the School Board has flexibility in setting the millage rate, but the increase cannot exceed one mill. The millage rate would be decided each year as part of the budgeting process.

 

Who gets the money?

The funds will significantly enhance salaries for non-administrators. That includes classroom teachers, classroom assistants, bus drivers, transportation assistants, custodians, counselors, student nutrition services, school psychologists, social workers, and other non-instructional support staff.

 

Do charter schools share the money?

Pasco charter schools will also be provided a share of funds based on student enrollment.

 

How much more money will teachers make?

Teachers could expect an average pay increase of approximately $4,000 yearly. Non-instructional employees could expect an average increase of approximately $1,700.

 

Are school employees who also are homeowners being asked to pay for their own raises?

No. The potential salary increases for the average employee far outweighs the potential increase in property taxes.

 

How long would the millage increase last?

The millage referendum would be put before the voters every four years for renewal.

 

What is the Pasco County Schools current millage rate?

The 2021-2022 school property tax millage rate is 4.31. An increase in the millage rate of even 1 mill still would be lower than the millage rate in 2015 (5.609).

 

What is the difference between Lift Up Pasco! and Penny for Pasco?

Both will benefit schools, but in very different ways. Lift Up Pasco! is for non-administrative salaries only, and the money comes from property taxes. Penny for Pasco is for capital projects (construction, renovation, safety features, etc.) only. The money comes from sales taxes collected in Pasco.

 

I don’t have children in school, so why should I support this?

There is a direct correlation between quality schools and economic growth in a community. And in order to have quality schools, we need quality staff. Education supports the community by ensuring students are ready for what comes after high school: college, career, and life. We need educated residents who are ready to become Pasco’s doctors, managers, and entrepreneurs, and to take on the positions with exciting new Pasco businesses like Moffit and Amazon.