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Hernando millage notices add details

BROOKSVILLE — Afraid that establishing separate taxing units to fund some county services would be seen as a fancy way to raise taxes, county commissioners several weeks ago rejected the idea.

But there was one part of the concept that commissioners liked — transparency.

So on Tuesday, the commission approved a change in the format for the Truth in Millage notices that go out to property owners each summer.

The TRIM notices tell property owners the days, times and places for public hearings on proposed property tax rates in case they want to lodge a complaint or urge a change.

The notices are designed to inform taxpayers what their annual property tax bill will amount to if the taxing authorities enact their tentatively approved rates. The notices also break down the amounts that go toward county government, the school district and other governmental bodies.

With Tuesday's commission action, the detail in the county portion of the TRIM notice will increase. Instead of just listing the amount of tax to support the county's general fund, it will break out the amount for departments under the County Commission, the total needed by the sheriff and the total to fund the remaining constitutional officers.

The cost of various county services and which ones have borne the brunt of budget cuts in recent years have been a bone of contention with the County Commission. The departments under the commission's control have seen the deepest cuts, and commissioners have asked that the five constitutional officers, including the sheriff, step up and cut more.

As it prepares its 2012-13 budget, the board has given budget manager George Zoettlein instructions to determine which functions of county departments are mandated and which ones are optional. Then each department and each constitutional officer will be given a percentage to cut.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

In other business

The Hernando County Commission on Tuesday:

• Approved a resolution honoring Howard R. Frank for his bequest of $75,000 to the county's library system. The donation is the single-largest donation to the county that finance director Amy Gillis can recall. According to the resolution, the money will be used to "improve library services in Hernando County including furnishings, technological advancements, updated items for the collection of materials and other needed improvements."

• By consensus, agreed to begin the process of formally naming the Little Rock Cannery in memory of activist Janey Baldwin, who died earlier this month. A fixture at County Commission meetings, Baldwin in recent years had spoken out forcefully to save the cannery from the budget ax. Since her death, county officials have acknowledged that she was the source of two anonymous donations of more than $50,000 each to help keep the cannery open.

• Approved a rezoning for James McLamb, allowing him to legally store outdoors the surplus building supplies he sells from his business on Wiscon Road. The previous zoning required him to keep the materials inside buildings. McLamb's representative, Buddy Selph, said the business has taken off and that it was not fiscally feasible to construct buildings to store all of the materials.

• Heard county administrator Len Sossamon announce plans to hold a town hall meeting on the county's 2012-13 budget at 6 p.m. June 28 at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10209, off Anderson Snow Road in Spring Hill. The meeting will include a presentation about the budget and will provide an opportunity for Sossamon and county staffers to discuss budget issues with the community.

• Gave formal permission for Juneteenth Festival organizer Paul Boston to use county equipment for the celebration, which is slated for the Frederick Kelly Elks Lodge in Brooksville on Saturday. The event will include a ceremony that will begin about 2 p.m., as well as music, vendors and barbecue.

Hernando millage notices add details 06/12/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:13pm]
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