Tuesday, January 23, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando County administrator to hold town hall meetings Monday

SPRING HILL — Whether the issue is garbage collection or lime rock roads, animal services or code enforcement, Monday is the day county residents can let their government know what's on their mind.

County Administrator Len Sossamon has scheduled town hall meetings in the fellowship hall at Northcliffe Baptist Church in Spring Hill from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m.

Sossamon said he wanted two meetings because some people might prefer to come and speak during the day, while those who work during the day will have a chance to come and express their concerns in the evening.

An open forum format is planned, with no scheduled presentation by Hernando County staffers. Instead, residents will be able to speak about whatever issues most concern or interest them.

Sossamon conducted his first town hall meeting in June, shortly after he became administrator, during budget season. That session drew about 60 people and largely grew into a debate about whether the county should consider raising the property tax rate to save county services.

While county officials are already looking at their 2013-14 spending plans with an eye toward more cuts because property tax collections are expected to continue to fall, Sossamon said he wants residents to talk about issues beyond just the budget.

He said he set up the sessions after hearing from residents who wanted more of an opportunity to have input with county commissioners, beyond the short time they are given at the start of each commission meeting. On Monday, some commissioners may be present to hear the public comments. County staff members will be there, too.

Sossamon said he would also like to hear suggestions from the public about which projects should be considered for funding with money the county expects to receive from the BP oil spill fine. Through the Restore program, coastal counties expect to receive dollars that can help with environmental restoration, tourism and economic development projects.

The administrator hopes to have a full wish list already in hand when the county gets official word that funds are available and when the criteria for acceptable projects are finalized.

Those who want to make comments to the county but cannot attend the Monday sessions may email their comments to [email protected]

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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