Is Hernando County Open for Business; Maybe
For those residents of the Adventure Coast who may not have been following the budget debacle in our county, our Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) passed a 1 millage rate, property tax increase on September 24, 2019. The vote was three commissioners for and two against the increase. So the recent trim notices we received are no longer proposed taxes, but the actual amount we are responsible for paying in November.
Hernando County now has the highest millage rate for the General Fund compared to our surrounding counties. I am told that the millage rate is at the statutory limit and cannot be raised any further. So if the BOCC is looking to further raise taxes, they will have to be innovative in their approach.
I followed this year’s budget deliberations with delight. At times the proceedings were quite comical; commissioners accusing each other who voted for what spending increase, and who did what in the past to further drive the county into the financial crisis we are in. The highlight for me was when the Chairman of the BOCC declared “…this is the worst day of my life...”
There are some unsung heroes that need to be recognized for attempting to put this county on an appetite suppressant and to reduce expenses. To the credit of the new County Administrator, he managed to cut costs to the tune of several million dollars and reduced the size of the workforce that he controls. Of note, the County Administrator does not control the Constitutional Offices which includes the Sheriff’s Office. The BOCC however does have the authority to set and approve their budgets. Commissioner Champion and Dukes both attempted valiantly to propose a half dozen proposals in order to reduce expenses and balance the budget. All proposals were immediately rejected and voted down three to two by the commissioners.
For clarity, all the BOCC controlled functions of government as well as most of the constitutional offices either consolidated functions, reduced their workforce or maintained cost at present levels. The exception was the Office of the Sheriff.
In hindsight, if I was one of the 27 employees removed from the workforce, I would be very upset at this point since the reductions were not proportionally applied across Hernando County Government.
The BOCC hired a management consultant at taxpayer expense that basically provided alternative options in order to balance the budget. All were ignored. Again a three to two vote.
My question is at what point does government become too expensive for new and existing businesses to call it quits on Hernando County.
— Mike Fulford
Ridge Manor Estates Community ATVs causing damage to property, noise pollution and poor quality of life for residents
I'm a homeowner in the Ridge Manor community.
The board of county commissioners recently passed an ordinance allowing ATVs free reign on lime-rock roads without any respect for the homeowners who actually live in the neighborhood.
Over the last year the ATV situation in my neighborhood has been so bad I've literally had to call the police three times in one weekend. Why might you ask...the constant noise at unbelievably high decibels is enough to irritate anyone. It disrupts your sleep, startles you awake and is just annoying. Not to mention the damage to private property, public roads and drainage systems they cause.
Over the last year I've asked all of the ATV drivers I've been able to speak with politely not to drive through the drain pipe fields and like a broken record I explain how they, by pushing the dirt, rock and debris right back into the drainage tubes they are causing damage to my land by flooding it. Water can move freely through the drainage tubes during the rainy season and NOT cause flooding to my land if the drainage field and elliptical tubes are kept free of impacted sand and debris.
Last year because of compacted dirt and debris clogging up the drain pipes my driveway flooded to the point I couldn't even get my car out to get to work. The county had to come and remove the blockage to allow the water an exit path before I could leave my home… literally.
The County has spent the last week clearing these waterways in vain. The County has done all they can to help with the situation to no avail. These tax dollars spent on maintaining proper drainage are now wasted due to these inconsiderate people riding their vehicles on top of property they do not own.
The most common response I get from people I ask not to do this is a disrespectful spouting off at the mouth that they have rights and are backed by Steve Champion’s Ordinance allowing ATVs on lime-rock roads. What about my rights! I OWN my home outright. Should I not be afforded peace and quiet and an expectation of personal and property safety?
The Sheriff's office hands have also been tied by this ordinance. More tax dollars wasted because even if you call the police to stop the unwanted noise or damage to property at unholy hours, by the time the sheriff’s deputy gets to you, the perpetrators are long gone. If the sheriff’s deputy doesn't physically see them disturbing the peace, causing noise pollution, property damage or breaking the law by riding on a paved road, they can't do a thing but come out and apologize.
The people causing the problems just don't care that they're waking you up, damaging your property or the county’s property and we are all paying for it, check your taxes people.
Steve Champion’s Ordinance regarding ATVs and lime-rock roads is part of what's wrong, not part of the solution here in Hernando.
FYI. I voted for Steve Champion and I purchased a gun from his shop next to Coney Island in Brooksville so this is not a personal vendetta.
— Michelle Meetze
Some observations in regards to Sue Quigley's Opinion article entitled "Our escalating climate crisis."
I disagree with her comment in response to the question: "What's causing these harmful changes"
The harmful changes she attributes to us are heat waves melting ice caps, rising seas and droughts.
I do not believe that this is true because our earth is dynamic. There are earthquakes, volcanoes, droughts, etc. throughout this planet's history. It is already noted that the North Pole is moving as evidenced by the fact that the Tampa Airport had to change the numbering of their runways. See: https://www.livescience.com/9231-earths-magnetic-field-shifts-forcing-airport-runway-change.html and www.sciencealert.com/here-s-why-the-north-pole-is-slowly-moving-towards-london
The polar shift is beyond our control.
I am not saying that our pollution is good. I look to what we can control -- lesson packaging so we do not have all that waste in our landfills, do not litter, pick up after yourself (follow Thailand and punish people that litter).
I was delighted to hear about MacRebur, the Scottish company that developed a method for supplementing conventional bitumen asphalt with pellets of recycled plastic, producing stronger and more durable pavement.
I look at the weather reports. Sometimes they have difficulty forecasting the weather 2 to 3 days out. If that is so, how can they predict something 10 years out. Changes have and will continue to happen. Some changes we can control, others we cannot control. Hopefully, we will be wise to discern the difference.
— Caroline Zoes
In response to the opinion article Basic Economics: Raising the Minimum Wage is Detrimental.
Just some thoughts:
1. What better way to drive out competition. If a company is barely making it (this happens to many start-ups) this might be the straw to break the camel's back. Raise the costs required and your competition
goes under and the jobs go away.
2. And the other corporations who have the money will replace workers with robots et al. We see this with McDonald's Self-Ordering Kiosk.
— Caroline Zoes
COMMENTS ON SEPTIC TO SEWER ISSUE:
Penny Jordan: I live in the affected area. What if I don't want to change to sewer? When did they plan on letting us know? And where are we supposed to come up with that kind of money for something we don't have a choice about? This is complete BS. If it is something they want to do, they should foot the whole d*mn bill. How much of my yard is going to get torn up? Are they going to remove my septic tank? Leaving them in the ground will still mean leaking nitrates.
George Foster: Commissioners made a wise decision. And this is just a start. All our springs and lakes and rivers are so polluted with septic tank effluent right now that they’re dying. If the trend is not reversed they will be dead.
Blaise Ingoglia (State Rep): This is not the commissioners fault. This stems from a DEP rule that stemmed from the passing of the Springs Protection Act in 2016. I have been fighting this rule for years because it did not take into account alternative methods to remove nitrates from the system. It also did not take into account the immense cost to taxpayers (because of “special interests” working behind the scenes). Last legislative session we had a bill ready to pass that would have helped alleviate some of the costs and fixed some of the problems but the Florida Senate would not take up the bill and pass it.
Ron Hurdel: Be a lot cheaper to make sure laws about lawn fertilization are enforced. That commercial lawn keepers are also following the laws on use of fertilizers and runoff. And if we need more restrictions on fertilizers, let's get that done too. We drink this water that is affected by fertilizer runoff.
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