The New Port Richey Public Library received a $100,000 grant from an Alabama company to install a solar-power array on its rooftop.

NEW PORT RICHEY – The city and New Port Richey Public Library received an electrifying bit of good news last week that will allow the downtown facility to improve the efficiency of its operations.

City Manager Debbie Manns informed City Council at last week’s regular meeting that the library will be the recipient of a $100,000 grant to go toward the installation of a rooftop solar energy array. The funding if from Alabama-based EBSCO Industries and is one of three 2019 EBSCO Solar Grants awarded. According to the grant agreement, the goal of EBSCO’s solar grant program is to “bring greater energy efficiency to the library and to move one step closer to improving the environment and transitioning from brown to green power.”

Library and city staff applied for the nationwide grant in April and adding to its attractiveness, Manns said, is that it requires no matching funds from the city. Other grant funding programs exist that require recipients to also put forward an amount of funding equal to the money provided.

Terms of the grant agreement requires to library to fulfill a number of commitments to receive the $100,000. Those include the library offering STEM-based curriculum classes, hands-on workshops and informative presentations for people of all ages. The educations opportunities must feature solar energy, the importance of sustainability, environmental stewardship and the promotion of all-around more healthy lifestyles.

One-hundred percent of the $100,000 dollars must go toward the installation of the rooftop solar array and the library is required to submit an interim report to EBSCO by the end of the year that includes a description of the project’s status.

Early budget discussion

The fiscal 2020 budget season is in full swing for local governments, and City Council received an update on this fiscal year’s process, albeit brief, from City Manager Debbie Manns.

It was a short presentation and discussion lasted fewer than 10 minutes, but Manns did deliver a bit of good news regarding revenues from a report provided by the Pasco County Property Appraiser. All taxable property in the city was valued at over $625 million and nearly $800,000 represented value of new construction. The total value represents an increase in taxable property of 8.74 percent, Manns said, which is an improvement from an increase in excess of 7 percent last year.

Manns also reported that the city’s goal is to reduce its current general fund property tax rate, of 8.9 percent, by 0.25 percent, though it’s still early in the process and the city is awaiting revenue estimates from the Florida Department of Revenue.

Manns stated that a more detailed presentation will be provided at a July 9 work session that is focused on the 2020 budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1. According to the work session agenda, the meeting’s objective is to discuss proposed revenues for the general fund and review the budgets for the departments of public works, fire, recreation and aquatics and finance.

City Council will also be presented with information from a citywide audit at the July 16 regular meeting.