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New government center tops Hernando County capital budget list

The county will pay for projects with sources ranging from grants to impact fees
Hernando County Government Center
Hernando County Government Center
Published Oct. 10, 2019

BROOKSVILLE — A new Hernando County Government Center could be in the offing. The county’s recently passed capital budget includes $1.7 to purchase land for it in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

For months, county officials have focused on fixing their general fund shortfall, but the county’s overall spending plan includes hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses beyond that pot of money.

The commission’s $528 million overall budget approved last month for 2019-2020, included capital improvements of $98.3 million. The capital plan stretches over five years, but only the first year’s expenses were included in the budget. Capital projects are those costing more than $50,000 and with a useful life for more than 10 years, according to Stephanie Russ, county budget director.

General fund costs largely are paid by property taxes. Additional sources of money for capital projects range from state and federal grants to gas taxes, and from bond issues to a publicly approved sales tax increase.

Hernando County’s biggest capital costs don’t happen in the coming year, but officials are preparing for them.

A new government center tops that list. It would house county commission offices, the county attorney, human resources and potentially other departments that have been moved to outside offices in recent years. County Administrator Jeff Rogers told commissioners they will need to make decisions on that expense in the coming months.

The 2019-2020 budget includes $1.7 to purchase property for the center. The funding source is impact fee money paid for by recent construction and designed to help the county pay for needs related to growth.

Commissioner Steve Champion said he believes the county needs to return to its previous plan and use the land and building it owns at Pinebrook Medical Center for a government center. The commission settled on that site several years ago, allocating money to help the doctors working there find new office space.

The building is outside the Hernando County seat — Brooksville — but is centrally located next to the Suncoast Parkway and closer to the population hub in Spring Hill.

"When you don’t have the money, you make do,'' Champion said. "You don’t build a new building, you find a way to stretch what you have.''

Rogers said the Pinebrook building has several problems, including the difficult traffic entry and exit on Cortez Boulevard. There is no median cut allowing traffic to turn directly in or out when traveling west.

The medical building is not suited to government office use, Rogers said, and there are questions about whether it would be appropriate space because it is outdated and may not be big enough as the county grows into its future needs.

The county also has considered building a new government center near the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

Commissioners have not determined how to pay $6.5 million to design a building and another $34.8 million to build one. Those expenses — as well as a $14 million emergency radio system — are projected for discussion and funding decisions next year. Grants, a sales tax or growth in the county’s tax base might be options, Rogers said.

Growth is part of the driver for a new government center, but the primary focus has been what the county’s judiciary considers its unmet needs in the existing center. Courtrooms, more secured areas and expansion for new judges have been on their wish list for more than a decade.

The 2019-2020 capital improvement plan includes $1.5 million for courtroom additions, described as "two new courtrooms with secure access and other facility upgrades as requested by the court’s administration. Project construction will depend on the construction of a new government center.”

The capital improvement plan also anticipates new facilities at Anderson Snow Park, which has significant room for expansion.

The county hopes to fund a splash park there in the 2020-21 fiscal year, Rogers said. The multi-year plan proposes a $400,000 expenditure for that project in the next year.

The current year capital plan includes two parks projects: $695,000 to rebuild the Bayport Pier, which was severely damaged in Hurricane Hermine in 2016; and $200,000 for the annual equipment replacement fund for playgrounds.

Also in the first year of the county’s capital improvement plan are:

  • 20 utility projects — $55.4 million
  • 75 projects for the Department of Public works — $20 million
  • Four airport projects — $7.4 million
  • Five solid waste and recycling projects — 5.8 million
  • Eight facilities and maintenance projects — $3.3 million
  • Four planning and transit projects —$1.9 million
  • Three fire-rescue projects — $1.8 million


  1. Brandon Russell, serving a five-year sentence on explosives charges, displayed a radiation warning tattoo during his jail booking in 2017. The symbol is found on the flag of the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group Russell founded. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Tyler Parker-Dipeppe, of Spring Hill, is accused of taking part in a neo-Nazi campaign to harass and intimidate activists and journalists, including one based in Tampa. [Pinellas County Jail]
  3. The antebellum mansions of Charleston's East Battery are a highlight of the city's historic district. SUSAN C. HEGGER  |  St. Louis Post Dispatch (2004) [SUSAN C. HEGGER  |  KRT]
  4. Mermaids perform their version of Hans Christian Andersons' classic fairy tale, 'The Little Mermaid,' in the underwater theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. [Michele Miller]
  5. Sara, Mouse, Lilly and Mario are looking for their forever homes. [Courtesy of Hernando County Animal Services, St. Francis Animal Rescue, Pasco County Animal Services, Friends of Strays]
  6. An unidentified fisherman wades into the water as storm clouds build over Tampa Bay as seen from the Gandy Bridge in St. Petersburg Wednesday. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times]
  7. Elvis Presley gets a close-up look at one of the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaids during a visit to the park in 1961.  [Times] [HANDOUT  |  WEEKI WACHEE SPRINGS]
  8. Ryan Lotito Sr., left, of Spring Hill pitches to his son Ryan Lotito Jr. to work on his swing techniques at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex in Spring Hill.
  9. Hudson High student Kaitlyn Helzer introduces herself to a curious corn snake during the Nature Coast Envirothon, held Feb. 19 at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Sumter County. Students from Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties tested their knowledge on aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife while vying for a spot at state competition. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
  10. The Southwest Florida Water Management District has declared 1,044 acres of its Annutteliga Hammock property in northwest Hernando County surplus. Most of those parcels are in the  area of Royal Highlands. The district has been seeking buyers for the individual parcels. [Tampa Bay Times]
  11. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  12. Anthony Jackson, 24, of Spring Hill, faces burglary and grand theft auto charges. Tyreece Germe, 23, whom deputies identified as one of Jackson’s accomplices in some tow truck misadventure, also faces a grand theft auto charge. [Hernando County Sheriff's Office]