Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooksville raises yet again the idea of a separate taxing unit for sheriff

Sheriff Al Nienhuis has been consistent in his opposition to a separate taxing unit for his office.

Sheriff Al Nienhuis has been consistent in his opposition to a separate taxing unit for his office.

BROOKSVILLE — Creating a separate taxing district to provide funding for Sheriff Al Nienhuis' budget was again on the table this week as the Brooksville City Council discussed asking the county to reconsider the controversial idea.

On Monday, a divided council agreed to draft a letter to county commissioners, requesting that they revisit the taxing district idea. Council members have not yet voted to send it. But, by Tuesday morning, commissioners had heard about the discussion and found themselves again grappling with the familiar political hot potato.

Nienhuis has previously taken a strong stand against the dedicated taxing district. When the County Commission was set to discuss it this spring, a quick poll of commissioners ended the debate.

That decision came months before the recent controversy over Nienhuis not returning more than $1 million dollars in federal inmate money to the county last year and failing to include the revenue projection in next year's budget until the commission called him on it.

The separate taxing district issue was raised Monday by Brooksville council member Natalie Kahler, who said she had been encouraging city officials to be creative in dealing with a troubling shortfall as they work on the city's 2017-18 budget. While the council has discussed whether the city can continue to afford both a fire department and a police department, Kahler asked why they couldn't talk about keeping the police but getting rid of sheriff's deputies who answer calls in the city.

She said her concern is that Brooksville's 8,000 residents are double taxed by paying for sheriff's services as well as the city's police service. If the county enacted the taxing unit for the sheriff's patrols, the city could choose to opt out.

"The benefit to the city is huge'' because the city could choose the form of its law enforcement, Kahler said.

She said she believes that the city's police service is "a whole lot tighter" in terms of cost than the sheriff's patrols. But her idea worried several fellow council members. Betty Erhard said she wanted more information and was concerned that Kahler had talked about the idea with county Commissioner Steve Champion.

Council member Joe Bernardini said raising the issue would "open up a real can of worms'' because Nienhuis is so opposed.

Member William Kemerer said he knew that his viewpoint would be unpopular because of the sheriff's opposition, but he also felt that he had to represent city residents and didn't like the idea of double taxation.

County commissioners also had a debate on the issue Tuesday, with Commissioner Jeff Holcomb fussing at Champion for going to council members and Champion defending his discussions, pointing out that Brooksville is in his commission district and his businesses are there. He also said that the double taxation question was the best reason he had heard so far for establishing the taxing unit as the city struggles with its financial issues.

Commissioner Nick Nicholson repeated his longtime support for the taxing unit for the sheriff, saying it would be a good option for the city and would end the "back and forth'' budget arguments the County Commission has had with the sheriff over the years.

Commissioners opted to do nothing more with the issue until the city makes a formal request for them to act.

The taxing unit idea has come up seven other times since 2003, according to the Sheriffs Office. Nienhuis responded to the latest discussion by saying that if establishing a separate taxing unit is again on the table, it should go to a referendum because "it is a decision that would directly impact every property tax payer in Hernando County.''

Contact Barbara Behrendt at bbehrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

Brooksville raises yet again the idea of a separate taxing unit for sheriff 08/10/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 10:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii

    Military

    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville

    Blogs

    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that ‘both sides” bore blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.