by LISA MACNEIL
At the regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on September 22, 2020, the board passed an ordinance establishing a new method to collect public nuisance fines that goes into effect on October 1, 2020.
Such liens will be imposed through a non-ad-valorem assessment on a property owner’s tax bill in the following year.
The ordinance will change the manner in which the county imposes and collects nuisance abatement liens in order to protect public funds and allow Hernando County to more effectively recover the costs associated with minimizing public nuisances that constitute a serious threat to public health, safety, and welfare.
The ordinance is the same method used for unsafe building abatement liens, called the uniform method, and the accrued bill is collected once the property is sold, preferably in order to get a higher rate of return of the costs. Since most of the properties have a low monetary value, very few of these liens are ever paid. “I’m not for more regulation typically,” Commissioner Steve Champion stated, “But in this situation, it affects the whole county,” clarifying that tax-payer dollars are instead being used to pay for the clearance of trash and debris, instead of the property owner being held accountable.
With the legal process established, after several notices and potential non-compliance, a property owner can challenge the lien through the courts. “We’re not taking anyone's rights away,” Champion continued, “It’s about saving taxpayer dollars.”
Chairman John Mitten stated “Many have heard me being very adamant against putting private sector businesses on the property tax rolls and this is different, this is taxpayer money.” Commissioner Allocco was in agreement with Mitten’s statement.