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County to set aside land for state purchase

Clearing the way for the state to acquire nearly 5,300 acres of wild land in southern Citrus County, the County Commission on Tuesday decided to wipe clean maps of subdivisions in Sugarmill Woods where homes were never built. The land, originally planned as Pinewood Village, Palm Village and Town Center, is a portion of the Annutteliga Hammock, a vast tract in Citrus and Hernando counties that the state hopes to set aside from development. Representatives of the non-profit Nature Conservancy who attended Tuesday's meeting said the land is now listed No. 5 for funding consideration on the state Conservation and Recreation Lands program's priority list of properties to be purchased. The commission's vote in favor of the "plat vacation" was unanimous.

Detente sought

for county, official

INVERNESS _ Tensions between the County Commission and Property Appraiser Ron Schultz may be easing. On Tuesday, the commission decided to send one commissioner and county staff to meet with officials from the state Department of Revenue to discuss options for resolving the commission's recent appeal of Schultz's budget. Commissioner Vicki Phillips agreed to go, and commissioners also said they hope to find out more about how the Revenue Department calculates the appropriate levels of property appraiser budgets. "They may use the weather as part of their criteria for all we know," said Commission Chairman Jim Fowler.

Commissioners may

renovate old library

INVERNESS _ After hearing a report that the old Beverly Hills Library is an often-used meeting place for community groups, county commissioners said Tuesday that they would consider renovating the building and maintaining it under the county's ownership. Karen Barnett, the county's parks and recreation director, told commissioners that the building is scheduled for approximately 300 uses in the coming year. During the past year, she said, the county took a loss of about $300 on operating the building, collecting $5 an hour from groups that rent the building. But, she said, the old library's popularity is growing as a meeting spot. Commissioner Vicki Phillips, along with Commissioner Brad Thorpe and Commission Chairman Jim Fowler, said the building, under county ownership, is providing a service to the community. Other options for the building that were previously discussed include selling it or leasing it to one agency or group.

Resident blasts officials

over water, sewer rates

INVERNESS _ County officials took heat Tuesday from one Meadowcrest resident who was angry about the recent approval of a 3 percent increase in rates charged customers of the county's sewer and water systems. County Administrator Gary Kuhl said the increase, affecting several thousand residents, was in accordance with the Consumer Price Index and the increase was approved during a public meeting. But Sumner Waite told the commission: "The public is supposed to be notified when you're going to increase water and sewer rates . . . In my mind, it's an illegal act that you did." Waite also directed his comments toward Kuhl, telling the commission: "If your staff and his staff can't do their job, then let's get them on the ball." Kuhl said later that he thought Waite's comments were disconcerting. "People think they can come to Florida and live for free," he said.

Monday proclaimed

Toys for Tots Day

INVERNESS _ Commissioners voted to proclaim Monday as the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Day. Those who would like to donate toys to needy children can leave the toys in boxes at designated businesses throughout Citrus County. For information, call 726-7836.

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