Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando calls emergency meeting on taxing issue

BROOKSVILLE — A $168 million increase in calculated taxable values could mean another $910,784 in revenue for Hernando County, a situation that the County Commission will discuss today in an emergency meeting.

The windfall will likely be significantly less, officials are warning, because of expected challenges by property owners.

County Administrator David Hamilton has three days from the date of the property appraiser's notification to decide whether to lower the 2011-12 tax rate recently approved by the County Commission so that the same amount of tax revenue would be generated.

Property Appraiser Alvin Mazourek provided that notice to the county Tuesday. Hamilton decided he wanted to hear what commissioners had to say on the issue, so an emergency meeting had to be called.

The meeting will be at 8 a.m. today in the commission chambers at the Hernando County Government Center.

According to Mazourek's memo to Hamilton, the tangible personal property accounts of communications companies, mining and utilities in the county comprise the increase in the taxable value.

Owners of tangible personal property, unlike owners of real property, are asked each year in January to submit a return with their best estimate of assessed value, according to the memo sent to Hamilton by Mazourek.

Most of the returns on larger items are not received by Mazourek's office until late April or early May and were not included in the earlier taxable value figures the county used to figure the 2011-12 budget.

The new higher valuation was the result of the Property Appraiser's Office using a new company to perform its valuation service, according to Mazourek's memo.

He warns that the county might not realize higher property tax collections from the value increase because "businesses that increased in value have or may challenge the 2011 increases which could result in Value Adjustment Board hearings and Circuit Court'' actions.

County Commission Chairman Jim Adkins on Wednesday voiced reservations about adjusting the tax rate because of the county's recent history of value decreases. Decreases approved by the Value Adjustment Board earlier this year cost the county $1.3 million that had to be made up in other areas.

Those valuation drops have been challenged by the property appraiser.

"We're dealing with a lot of unknowns at this time,'' Adkins said.

Commissioner John Druzbick expressed similar reservations. "There are a lot of questions I have at this point,'' he said.

"I can't fathom anyone voting to lower the millage rate,'' said Commissioner Jeff Stabins, who is at his summer home in New York and cannot attend the emergency meeting. He said he planned to tell Hamilton his viewpoint so that Hamilton knew what all commissioners were thinking.

He called the windfall "phantom money'' because it was so unlikely that the county would receive much of it and strongly opposed any change to the budget or tax rate.

"We should do just like what the Beatles sing: Let it be. Let it be. Let it be,'' Stabins said.

The increased value is large enough to trigger allowing the administrator to consider adjusting the tax rate, according to George Zoettlein, county budget manager.

Several of the county's tax rates are affected, but the largest is the general fund tax rate, which the County Commission set at 5.6279 mills. To raise the same amount of money as the approved budget states, that would have to be lowered to 5.5049 mills. A mill yields $1 in tax for every $1,000 of taxable property value.

For the owner of a $150,000 house with the full $50,000 homestead exemption, that decrease would amount to a savings of $12.30 on the general fund county tax.

Zoettlein said he will also caution the commissioners about the potential for challenges. If some of the money does come through, he said it would lessen the county's draw on the budget stabilization reserve, a reserve the county must pay back within the next two years.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando calls emergency meeting on taxing issue 10/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 6:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  3. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.
  4. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.
  5. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.