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Special taxing districts to be debated by Hernando commissioners

BROOKSVILLE — There should be plenty of tax talk at Tuesday's Hernando County Commission meeting — talk about taxing districts, not tax rates.

The commission will hold a public hearing to consider creating a number of taxing districts to finance specific county services. A positive vote would allow commissioners to consider setting tax rates in those categories later this year as they discuss the county's 2013-14 budget.

They need to act now to create the districts in order to meet a May 24 deadline to notify the property appraiser.

The issue of special taxing districts has been controversial.

Commission Chairman Dave Russell is a proponent of collapsing separate districts into a single tax rate. Commissioner Diane Rowden has pushed for separate units to be sure residents know what they are paying for each county service. The effect they would have on the overall tax rate would be up to commissioners.

Currently, the county has special taxing districts for mosquito control, storm water management, emergency medical services and, on the west side of the county, Spring Hill Fire Rescue.

On Tuesday the board will consider taxing units to pay for libraries, parks and recreation, law enforcement, economic development, unincorporated services and countywide fire-rescue service under a consolidated district.

The board will also consider amending the existing taxing district that pays for mosquito control by removing the one-tenth-of-a-mill cap.

That is because, at the current rate, not enough money can be raised to operate the program at its existing level, said George Zoettlein, assistant administrator for budget and community services.

Last year, the county had to supplement the mosquito control budget with $120,000 from the general fund.

Commissioners will also be asked if they want to set a referendum for voters to consider a 1-cent sales tax to partially pay for fire-rescue and emergency medical services.

If a referendum were approved, the county would have to reduce other funding sources by an equal amount.

Those sources will be determined later this summer as officials make final decisions regarding the merger of the Hernando County and Spring Hill fire-rescue operations.

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

Special taxing districts to be debated by Hernando commissioners 04/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 8:05pm]
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