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Vote gave rough roads big bump // Some pay for repairs themselves

When neighbors on Carlin Street got tired of driving in ruts, they did something besides complain.

They split the cost of a $4,000 paving job. Reluctant to lock themselves into a seven-year debt, they paid _ up front.

The result is a smooth asphalt surface on the short, dead-end street just north of Brooksville.

"They put up the money themselves," said Hernando County Public Works Director Alan Holbach.

With the proposed sales tax defeated, that is the only option left for anyone who faces potholes and cracked asphalt.

There are two methods of payment.

Those who want to pay up front can. By doing so, they avoid finance charges. However, they must bear the total cost, and residents who do not pay cannot be assessed.

Those whose bill is too big to pay at once and who want a special tax district can form a Municipal Services Benefit Unit. By doing that, residents borrow money from the county and pay it back, said Elaine Singer, Hernando's special assessments technician.

The process works like this:

First, a neighborhood must present the county with a petition bearing the signatures of at least two-thirds of property owners who are registered to vote. Public Works Department employees will inspect the road and offer estimates of what it would cost to repair it.

The county then schedules a public hearing. There, affected residents can express their opinions on the proposed assessment.

The ultimate decision rests with the County Commission.

Residents living in such a special tax district will get billed for the extra costs on their property tax notices. They have seven years to pay off the loan, with interest rates hovering at around 6 percent.