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Between the lines of Hernando County's annual report

Paul Harvey, meet Hernando County.

Harvey, the late, legendary radio broadcaster, used a signature tag to tell listeners "the rest of the story.'' If he were alive today, Harvey would have a bounty of new material courtesy of the Hernando County annual report.

The tidy 10 pages of accomplishments is included in the commission agenda for Tuesday's meeting and what it doesn't tell you is just as vital as what it does detail in highlighting county government activities for the 2011 fiscal year. The report mentions, among other things, wider roads, a better airport, a new public health center, rehabilitated housing, economic development, tourism, improvements to south Brooksville and the ongoing dredge of the Hernando Beach channel to improve safety and deep water access to the Gulf of Mexico.

Certainly, these are legitimate and accurate. But, as a public service, here are a few of the "rest of the story'' details that shouldn't be overlooked:

• The report begins by citing the new airport traffic control tower. Construction began in June and four-fifths of the $2.5 million cost is covered by the state with airport reserves compiled from fees and leases paid by airport and industrial park tenants. The project involved no local property taxes.

The rest of the story? Commissioner Jim Adkins still voted against this valuable asset that is intended to help bolster long-term growth potential of the airport, which is the centerpiece of the county's industrial recruiting.

• The Elgin Boulevard widening began in March and will turn the two-lane road into a four-lane route with new sidewalks and drainage. It's a needed improvement to ease congestion in Spring Hill between Mariner Boulevard and Village Van Gogh. Construction cost is $2.7 million, about half the original estimate, and 50 percent of the funding comes from the state.

The rest of the story? The county had to remove 33 homes from the planned route and spent approximately $6 million to acquire residences based on appraisals compiled at the height of the real estate boom.

"The price we pay for bad planning,'' Commissioner David Russell once said, "but it had to be done.''

Later, Commissioner Jeff Stabins told one persistent Elgin Boulevard critic that he'd be "eating spaghetti out of a strainer'' if he pestered the commissioner's family in New York state and also told the constituent, during a commission meeting, to ''shut up'' and ''get lost.''

The report included no notation of community relations.

• The county designated Linda Pedersen Park, Jenkins Creek, Lake Townsen Park and Nobleton Wayside Park as preserves under the environmentally sensitive land program.

The rest of the story? No new land is being preserved. It's an accounting ploy to take money from the sensitive land fund and spend it on the upkeep of existing parks.

• Hernando County government Broadcasting partnered with a local restaurant to produce Loving Food, a series featuring various charities around the county.

The rest of the story? Stabins' plans for his own show on the government broadcast channel failed to make the fall line-up.

• The Parks and Recreation Department staff created "innovative approaches to develop public/private partnerships for park maintenance.''

The rest of the story? The public had no other choice.

First, Commissioners Wayne Dukes, John Druzbick and a flip-flopping Jim Adkins voted to kill previously approved park fees, already agreed to by sports leagues, that were intended to bolster the department's budget.

Five months later, the county staff recommended shuttering five parks and closing significant portions of two others. The plan called for abandoning the athletic fields at Ernie Wever Park, closing Stewy's Skate Park at Pioneer Park and opening Linda Pedersen Park just three or four times a year for special events.

Innovation? Try extortion.

• The final page of the annual report highlights the 2011 work by Hernando's constitutional officers: the clerk of the courts, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, tax collector and sheriff.

This single page dedicated to five countywide offices would have been a lot longer if Russell had his way. The commissioner pitched an idea to consolidate those stand-alone functions, except for law enforcement, under the auspices of county commissioners.

In other words, the five guys who had such a hard time figuring out how to pay for mosquito spraying were supposed to oversee everything from driver's licenses to real estate appraising, collecting property taxes and serving as their own auditor.

Imagine what the rest of that story would have been.

Between the lines of Hernando County's annual report 12/03/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 3, 2011 12:10pm]
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