Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spring Hill Fire Rescue to ask Hernando County for stopgap tax help

SPRING HILL — With the matter of how they will fund operations next year still unresolved, Spring Hill Fire Rescue representatives go before the County Commission on Tuesday to ask Hernando to keep collecting property taxes for the district.

Fire Chief Mike Rampino said this week the district's lawyers are proposing a stopgap measure to keep in place an interlocal agreement with the county until the district can establish its own taxing authority.

The current agreement, put in place after residents voted in 2008 to make the district independent from the county, is set to expire Sept. 30. After that, the county will no longer have legal authority to collect taxes for the district.

"We're in a predicament," Rampino said. "And this is the most cost-effective way of dealing with the issue."

Last year, Spring Hill residents voted not to give the district authority to collect taxes. Without a new agreement, the district must find another way to pay for fire and rescue services or face the possibility of shutting down its operations.

The district wants the county to create a special entity called a municipal services taxing unit to levy taxes on its behalf. However, in a memo last week to Commissioner Jim Adkins, assistant county attorney Jon Jouben said that doing so might create legal problems for the county.

"If the county … created a MSTU to levy taxes on Spring Hill Fire's behalf, the county would be re-creating the arrangement that the voters have rejected," Jouben wrote.

If a court found the levy to be unconstitutional, the county would be unable to get the money back from Spring Hill Fire that would have already been spent on the district's operating costs, Jouben wrote.

The fire district's attorney, Terry Lewis, disputed Jouben's claim in a letter to Adkins. He said a judge's order in 2009 allowing Hernando County to collect Spring Hill Fire's taxes through Sept. 30 did not prevent the creation of an MSTU.

Adkins said he told Lewis he had reservations about putting the county in legal jeopardy and told him to figure out how to fix the problem in a way that is "aboveboard and legal.''

"Knowingly, I will not put a lawsuit on our taxpayers,'' Adkins said. "It shouldn't be on our table anyway'' because the original referendum should have tied the district's independence to taxing authority.

Rampino said that if the interlocal agreement is not renewed, the district will most likely look at holding a special referendum to once again ask voters to give the district its own taxing authority.

"That would be a costly route to take," Rampino said. "And I don't think that's something the public wants to see at this point."

Staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report. Logan Neill can be reached at or (352) 848-1435.

Spring Hill Fire Rescue to ask Hernando County for stopgap tax help 04/08/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2011 8:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida TaxWatch calls out $180 million of questionable spending in state budget


    Florida TaxWatch, a Tallahassee thinktank, has released its annual "budget turkey" list that calls on Gov. Rick Scott to veto nearly $180 million in special projects tucked into the budget, mostly in transportation.

    Kurt Wenner, Florida TaxWatch's vice president for research, presents the organization's 2017 turkey list.
  2. U.S. plans first test of ICBM intercept, with North Korea on mind


    WASHINGTON — Preparing for North Korea's growing threat, the Pentagon will try to shoot down an intercontinental-range missile for the first time in a test next week. The goal is to more closely simulate a North Korean ICBM aimed at the U.S. homeland, officials said Friday

    n this May 21 file photo people watch a TV news program showing a file image of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. With North Korea's nuclear missile threat in mind, the Pentagon is planning a missile defense test next week that for the first time will target an intercontinental-range missile.
  3. A breakdown of the proposed new state budget by the Florida Association of Counties.
  4. Gradebook podcast: Budgets, pre-k, achievement gap and more


    As classes let out across Florida, school district leaders continue to analyze how they're going to balance their budgets given the constraints proposed by state lawmakers.  Reporter Jeff Solochek and editor Tom Tobin discuss the concerns district finance officials are raising as they look at the budget while …

  5. Boehner: Trump's term 'disaster,' aside from foreign affairs


    WASHINGTON — Former House Speaker John Boehner says that aside from international affairs and foreign policy, President Donald Trump's time in office has so far been a "complete disaster."

    John Boehner said he's been friends with Trump for 15 years, but still has a hard time envisioning him as president.