At the regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on June 14, 2022, Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve borrowing approximately $56 million for four high-profile projects around Hernando County.
Budget Director Toni Brady began the discussion of these projects and their resulting debt responsibilities.
Current Projects and Debt Responsibility
Judicial Center Remodel: $9m
Fire Stations 5,6 and 2: $12m
Cell at Landfill: $20m
Tax Collector Westside: $15m
After funding from the Court Improvement Fund and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, the Judicial Center Remodel fell short by $9 million.
A new Constitutional Building was removed from the project list. County Administrator Jeff Rogers recommended the county delay moving forward on the Constitutional Building, citing a greater need for the West Side Tax Collector’s office. “The increase in population and increase in demands on the Tax Collector’s west side, and the space we have there … it’s a very efficient operation, but as you know there are more and more demands put on the tax collector … the space is inadequate.”
Rogers went on to say that the density of population on the west side of the county will continue to increase. “Even the population today is too much for the building.”
Tax Collector Sally Daniel later added that her office sees 800 people per day on Mondays, and approximately 1,500 – 1,600 per day on other days.
It should be noted that the Tax Collector’s office on 98 next to PHSC North Campus has been closed for renovations since December, and this closure is contributing to the traffic to the Forest Oaks plaza. There is a bus at the courthouse, but it only provides limited services and closes early.
Furthermore, Daniel said that the current building has been expanded in the past, and would probably cost more to expand again rather than purchase a new building.
The property for the new Tax Collector’s office has already been selected by the county and is in proximity to the Health Department on Forest Oaks Boulevard, however, the exact site was not mentioned. The new site is expected to enhance the driver’s testing experience by providing a larger test area.
Fire and Emergency Services Stations 5 and 6 are currently under construction with funding from a Line of Credit. Construction on Station 2 has recently begun.
The Solid Waste department needs a new Cell at the county landfill within the next
In 2019, Debt Policy 41-01 was enacted, directing responsibilities of projects and debts to the appropriate Department Director, and also to the County Administrator, Budget Director, and the Clerk’s Financial Services Director. Paid financial consultants — the County’s Independent Board Council and the County’s Independent Disclosure Channel both have to agree with the above – mentioned officials when acquiring debt.