‘Pennies for Pasco’ Wish List Includes Local Projects
Come November, Pasco County residents have a decision to make. This decision could continue to cost them a penny per dollar on every purchase they make. However, this is a tax that already has been in place since 2005, so the decision for voters will be whether or not to renew the “Penny for Pasco” program for another 10 years.
On April 25, the Pasco County Commission released its “wish list” of projects that it would plan to spend the estimated $525 million to be raised by the one-cent sales tax hike on if the program is renewed. County staffers say the 52-page wish list will be difficult to pay for if the proposed continuation of the tax doesn’t pass in November.
Several of the “wishful” projects will or would directly impact the Wesley Chapel area.
The project that would have the largest impact would be the addition of a new interchange off Interstate-75 at Overpass Rd. This project is estimated to cost more than $43 million, but the penny tax would pay for $15 million of the total cost. The rest of the funding would have to come from the state and federal government and other sources.
Another project would be rebuilding Wesley Chapel’s Fire Station 13, located on Old Pasco Rd., just north of S.R. 54 in the Quail Hollow area. The penny tax would cover the estimated $1.8-million cost of construction of the new facility.
That extra cent per dollar also could pay for “wildlife corridors” that would connect large pieces of conservation lands, particularly through the Cypress Creek Preserve area. The wish list included two projects through the Cypress Creek corridor, totaling more than 1,300 acres. The cost to complete these projects is estimated at more than $6 million.
As it stands, the tax will continue through 2014, keeping the sales tax rate at seven-cents, instead of the six-cent rate in many other Florida counties. The vote in November would ensure that there would be no lapse of time without the tax and also prevent the county from having to hold a separate referendum in 2013 solely for that issue, which surely would not generate the kind of voter turnout an appearance on the same ballot as a presidential election this year would bring.