Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando commissioners talk of action, then defer

BROOKSVILLE — Sure, Hernando County's commissioners want to cut costs, reduce government and find millions of dollars for needed roads, county projects and other infrastructure.

But when the final results of Tuesday's goal-setting session were revealed, the top priority was less glamorous: form a bunch of committees to talk about the important issues.

At least one community activist caught the irony. Janey Baldwin, who sat through the two-hour session, said she could predict how people would react to the priority list.

"We don't need a second legislature here,'' she said. "We need a County Commission which will act proactively.''

Tuesday's informal session was led by University of Florida professor Rodney Clouser, an extension service public policy specialist.

The commissioners used colorful sticky notes to identify issues, then grouped them into larger topics such as economic development, the budget, government operations and engaging the public.

As they began going through the larger issues, Clouser asked commissioners to explain what they meant when they wrote phrases like "economic stimulus.''

Commissioner Dave Russell said the county needs to have infrastructure projects ready for the promised state and federal economic stimulus packages. "We need to make sure that we have projects ready to go. We certainly have a labor force ready to go,'' Russell said.

Small businesses also need help, said Acting Commission Chairwoman Rose Rocco. Speeding up permits, adjusting how impact fees are paid, dealing with issues of property valuations and taxes are vital topics for small businesses.

She added there needs to be a way for the county to better hear from local businesses what they need from the county.

Commissioner John Druzbick agreed. He said he would like to see a business task force telling county department heads what does and doesn't work for the county. Commissioner Jeff Stabins said he wanted to be sure small businesses were part of that because there are already ways for big businesses to be heard.

The commissioners also talked about the need for budget reports, with Stabins saying that, as County Administrator David Hamilton leads downsizing, the county must learn more about how the constitutional officers conduct business so they can all work together to save tax money.

Druzbick and the other newly elected commissioner, Jim Adkins, talked about cutting spending and making it clear to the public how the county spends money.

Adkins also advocated beginning a process to study charter government, and Stabins took a stab at the need to scale back overzealous code enforcement.

Russell floated the idea of a standing committee system, likening it to state legislative committees in Tallahassee. Four could cover all the topics discussed, he said.

These committees would be made up of two commissioners, staff and the public, and would conduct public meetings to hash out the details of proposals to complete the tasks the commission had identified.

Russell argued that some of the county's "sins of the past'' could be traced to the fact that there has not been a mechanism to transition from one county administrator to another, one county commission to another, and this standing committee system would keep the county focused.

Druzbick said he liked the idea because it would again provide transparency to the public so citizens would know what their county officials are doing.

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

Hernando commissioners talk of action, then defer 12/02/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 5, 2008 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: For Class of 2016, college debt loads favor Florida graduates


    Florida college graduates saddled with student debt: Take heart. The average debt Class of 2016 Florida grads must bear is less than students in most states.

    University of South Florida undergraduates gather at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa for last fall's commencement ceremony. A new survey finds their average student debt upon graduating was $22,276. Statewide, 2016 Florida grads ranked a relatively unencumbered 45th among states, averaging $24,461 in student debt. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Romano: One person, one vote is not really accurate when it comes to Florida


    Imagine this:

    Your mail-in ballot for the St. Petersburg mayoral election has just arrived. According to the fine print, if you live on the west side of the city, your ballot will count as one vote. Meanwhile, a ballot in St. Pete's northeast section counts for three votes.

    Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections worker Andrea West adds mail ballots to an inserter Sept. 22 at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Service Center in Largo. (SCOTT KEELER   |   Times)
  3. St. Petersburg will hold first budget hearing tonight

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Sunshine City's new property tax rate looks exactly like its current rate. For the second year in a row, Mayor Rick Kriseman does not plan to ask City Council for a tax hike or a tax cut.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman talks about the state of the city on Tuesday, two days after Hiurricane Irma passed through the state. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  4. 'We were lucky': Zephyrhills, Dade City get back to normal after Irma


    Two weeks after Hurricane Irma struck Florida, residents and city officials in eastern Pasco — hit harder than other areas of the county — are moving forward to regain normalcy.

    Edward F. Wood, 70, tugs at a branch to unload a pile of debris he and his wife picked up in their neighborhood, Lakeview in the Hills in Dade City.
  5. After Hurricane Irma, many ask: How safe are shelters?


    NAPLES — Residents of the Naples Estates mobile home park beamed and cheered when President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott strolled amid piles of shredded aluminum three days after Hurricane Irma to buck up residents and hail the work of emergency responders. But almost nobody had anything good to say about …

    The Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area opened its doors to anyone seeking temporary shelter during Hurricane Irma. Evacuees were housed in the Istaba multipurpose building and was quickly at capacity housing over 500 people. [Saturday, September 9, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]