Spring Hill fire board sets up tax vote, just in case

SPRING HILL — Spring Hill Fire Rescue commissioners on Wednesday set aside $250,000 and set a date for a special election they hope not to have to hold.

The board plans to ask a judge as soon as possible to extend for a year a special agreement under which Hernando County collects property taxes to support the district services. That agreement is set to expire Sept. 30, leaving the district without a way to raise funds.

Spring Hill voters last year refused to give the district the authority to levy taxes, after voting in November 2008 to make the district independent from the county.

The fire board attorney, essentially, will ask Circuit Judge William T. Swigert to keep the connection between the county and the fire district intact by extending the agreement until the district can set up another referendum asking for taxing authority.

A stipulated agreement signed by Swigert in 2009 allowed the county to continue collecting taxes for the district for one year until voters could be given the chance to grant the district its own taxing authority.

If Swigert approves the district's proposal, the tax referendum would appear on the state primary election in early 2012.

In the event that Swigert rules against the district, the remaining option would be a special election this year.

The board voted Wednesday to set aside up to $250,000 of the district's reserves toward such an election, which would be held June 14.

Preliminary figures from Supervisor of Elections Annie Williams said that a special election in June would cost at least $140,000. That figure didn't include staff costs.

The fire district's attorney, Andrew Salzman, submitted a resolution to the board calling for the election to be held by mail ballot.

Fire commissioners must choose between that and a traditional polling election.

The referendum would ask Spring Hill voters for the authority to levy taxes up to 2.5 mills, which is identical to the question voters rejected last August.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@sptimes.com.

Spring Hill fire board sets up tax vote, just in case 04/27/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 9:15pm]

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