Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County says state is stopping it from showing public how money is spent

BROOKSVILLE — By blocking the county from showing on tax notices how much specific county services will cost, the state Department of Revenue is robbing the public of the chance to see how its money is spent.

That's the argument of the county attorney's office in an action filed this week seeking an administrative law judge's help to put into place changes approved by the County Commission last week.

On June 12, the commission voted to change the format of this year's TRIM notices, which are the preliminary notices property tax owners receive before government budgets and tax rates are set in September.

The past year's TRIM notice lumped the cost of all county government services on one line. The commissioners voted to break that total into three lines. One would show the cost of the sheriff's services. One would show general county services. The third would show the cost of the services provided by the other elected constitutional officers.

Through the last couple of years of budget shortfalls, county commissioners have struggled to fully explain to the public how much commission-controlled departments cost compared to the cost of law enforcement and other constitutional offices.

During that time, departments that the commissioners control have taken the brunt of the budget cuts. Commissioners voted for changing the TRIM notices to give taxpayers more transparency about who spends what without having to set up separate taxing districts for departments.

Property Appraiser Alvin Mazourek organized a teleconference on Monday that allowed county officials to speak with the Florida Department of Revenue TRIM compliance section director James McAdams.

"During the call, director McAdams stated that the county could not subdivide its millage rate on its 2012 TRIM notices,'' the county's complaint states. "Director McAdams stated that the county could provide that information to the taxpayers on an insert to be enclosed with each TRIM notice, however the DOR reserved the right to approve any insert.''

McAdams then formalized that opinion with a follow-up email to Mazourek.

The county attorney's office argues that McAdams did not cite statutory provisions which prohibit the changes on the TRIM notice or provisions that give the Department of Revenue power to review and decide whether a flier can be enclosed with the notice.

"DOR's agency determination has the practical effect of shielding one portion of Hernando County's government, the Sheriff's Office, from greater budget scrutiny by the general public,'' the county argues. "In this manner, DOR has reduced the amount of 'sunshine' provided to the public and reduced the taxpayers' ability to participate in the process of millage setting.''

The county attorney also notes that Manatee County in 2011 broke out the county and sheriff's costs on its TRIM notices.

If DOR approved the notices in Manatee County and is rejecting Hernando County's use of the same format, that would violate the state law for making formal rules, the county argues.

While Manatee County did break the cost of the sheriff out from the other county departments on its 2011 TRIM notices, that won't happen again on Manatee County's 2012 TRIM notices because of the same concerns McAdams has voiced with Hernando officials, according to Cyndi Capps, assistant to Manatee County Property Appraiser Charles Hackney.

The issue would have to be resolved by the end of July for the county to be able to change the format of the Hernando TRIM notices, said John Emerson, Mazourek's chief deputy. The notices are sent out to property tax owners in August.

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

Hernando County says state is stopping it from showing public how money is spent 06/21/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 21, 2012 4:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  2. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)
  3. Photo gallery: Nation pays respects to America's war dead on Memorial Day

    Human Interest

    At Memorial Day ceremonies in Tampa Bay area and around the country, Americans paid tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.

    Eight-year-old Piper St. Jean, of Tampa, uses a brush to clean the grave of her grandfather, Henry St. Jean, who served with the United States Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens on Monday moments after the conclusion of their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with rhythm section. On Saturday local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops placed flags on veterans???‚??„? graves prior to the event. This is an annual tradition of Curlew Hills' Memorial Day services and helps the Scout troops achieve merit badges. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
  4. Protest sparks Texas lawmaker threats of gun violence


    AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of protesters opposing Texas' tough new anti-"sanctuary cities" law launched a raucous demonstration from the public gallery in the Texas House on Monday, briefly halting work and prompting lawmakers on the floor below to scuffle — and even threaten gun violence — as tense …

  5. Photo gallery: 20 mugshots of pro athletes arrested in Florida - 1994 to 2017


    In light of today's arrest of Tiger Woods in Jupiter, Florida on DUI charges, here are 20 booking mugs of professional athletes who have been arrested in Florida, from 1994 (Jennifer …

    Desmond Bryant - 2005 - Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was arrested in Miami on charges of criminal mischief after allegedly "going to a neighbor's house inebriated and causing a commotion."