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Hernando commission talks taxes, proposes small rate increase for next year

BROOKSVILLE — Taxes were the issue of the day at the Hernando County Commission meeting Tuesday, with commissioners tentatively approving a small increase in the property tax rate as well as the Penny for Projects sales tax referendum that will go on the ballot in November.

The county staff presented commissioners with a proposal to increase the property tax rate slightly in order to support the general fund, including the $1.3 million budget increase sought by the sheriff. The staff also recommended a small bump in the mosquito control tax to avoid dipping into the general fund to make ends meet. The staff recommended leaving other tax rates, including the transportation trust fund and emergency medical services, the same.

The majority of commissioners said they didn't want to see the property tax rate go up again for next year since they increased the rate for this year. Several also mentioned wanting to fix the problem created this year when the city of Brooksville opted out of the mosquito taxing district and the county stopped providing service for the city.

Commissioners compromised by agreeing to take the existing tax rate for the general fund and adding to it the cost of mosquito control — at a slightly higher rate than this year. Then they eliminated the current separate levy for mosquito control.

Those moves would take the combined tax rate for the general fund and mosquito control from the current 6.9669 mills to a proposed 6.9912. One mill is equivalent to $1 of tax for each $1,000 of assessed, nonexempt real property. The owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000 could expect to pay $699.12 next year, compared with $696.69 this year.

Commissioners said they hoped to see that rate drop with some belt tightening before the first of the two public hearings on the budget and tax rates at 5 p.m. Sept. 9.

Meanwhile, in a unanimous vote, the commission approved the sales tax referendum. On the Nov. 4 ballot, Hernando voters will consider approval of a 1 cent increase in the sales tax. One-half cent essentially would replace the school district's half-cent tax that expires this year. The other half-cent would be for county infrastructure projects, with a percentage going to the city of Brooksville.

If approved, the sales tax is expected to bring in a total of $15 million per year.

Commissioner Nick Nicholson suggested that the commission extend the moratorium on transportation impact fees, which are set to kick back in on Aug. 14. He said the county should extend that implementation another six months to see what happens with the sales tax. Commissioners will discuss that proposal next month.

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

Hernando commission talks taxes, proposes small rate increase for next year 07/22/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 8:48pm]
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