by LISA MACNEIL
At the Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019 final budget hearing, the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 final budget totaling $528,115,249.
Commissioners also voted to raise the existing 6.8912 millage rate to 7.8912. This tax rate, $7.8912 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, is intended to eliminate the General Fund deficit and help to restore reserves by contributing a total of $123,212,691 to the General Fund budget. The approved FY 2020 final budget was balanced with expenses equal to revenues without using reserves.
BOCC Chairman Jeff Holcomb opened citizens comments by correcting statements heard in previous meetings about impact fees and sales taxes. “Impact fees do not have anything to do with our general fund. Impact fees only affect capacity , “capacity” is increasing an intersection, building a new school, expanding or building a new park. Our impact fees are at 100% except for roads (which are) at 22%, and schools are at 50%. Sales tax can only go towards capital. So, if you’re talking about a new radio system, cars, buildings, those type of things sales tax (can be used for).” Holcomb added that capital expenses make up about 4-5% of the total budget. “It would be great to have a sales tax increase … but that can only be used for a limited scope,” said Holcomb.
Before the vote on the millage rate, Commissioner Steve Champion asked, “I believe this vote is illegal…it’s over 14% millage increase. I disagree with the forms, I don’t agree with the Administrator or the staff … I want to be on record to say that a 3-2 vote is not legal to pass this large of an increase.”
County Attorney Garth Coller said, “My advice to this board is to go with the interpretation by the professionals who are charged with overseeing the county budgets. Believe me, they will look at the numbers … and send it back if you’ve made a mistake.”