Sheriff seeks public's support
Residents and visitors contact the Hernando County Sheriff's Office several hundred times a day. They are usually looking for help. We love providing that help. Today, I am asking for your help.
The Hernando County Commission will be meeting on Tuesday, March 28. The commission is scheduled to discuss two items of great importance to citizens of Hernando County: the Hernando County Sheriff's Office current budget needs and their plan to once again seek to impose a municipal services taxing unit on property taxpayers.
The commission voted last year to reduce my requested budget. They removed the 4 percent increase I requested. I was going to use this increase for a new K-9 handler position, a sexual predator and offender tracking detective, an additional animal enforcement officer, and a mental health worker, among a few other things. It also included money to cover small raises for employees. The commission refused to fund any of these items.
The commission did approve raises for all other county employees, including firefighters.
This forced me to appeal the commission's decision to the governor's office. There is still no date set for a Tallahassee hearing regarding this budget dispute.
The governor's office did ask us to compare our staffing to five similar counties in the state of Florida. We learned that the Hernando County Sheriff's Office is short by an average of 140 deputies. This is after adjusting for population. The shortage is even worse when we are compared to all law enforcement agencies within Florida.
My office has made at least three written attempts to fix this problem since September. None of the suggestions would have increased taxes. There has been no official response from the commission. However, the county has now suddenly announced it plans to once again consider an unnecessary taxing plan that will increase administrative costs and put more burden on Hernando County property owners. The continued effort to impose a municipal services taxing unit and the ongoing budget struggles of your Sheriff's Office should concern every citizen of Hernando County. That's where you come in.
Please attend the County Commission meeting scheduled for March 28 at the Hernando County Government Center in Brooksville. While the agenda has not been finalized at the time of this writing, the MSTU discussion has been advertised for 9:30 a.m.
If you are unable to attend, please contact your county commissioners to voice your support for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
Several commissioners have said publicly that they support law enforcement. It is now time for them to prove it. I need your help to hold them accountable.
Al Nienhuis, Hernando County sheriff
One suggestion for traffic problem
I have a suggestion for the people who are worried about the lack of traffic signals to the new malls: Don't shop there until the county fixes it.
There, problem solved.
Jan Kalnbach, Brooksville