Poll points to trouble for many ballot proposals

TALLAHASSEE --- Only four of the 13 state constitutional amendments on the November ballot have enough voter support to be enacted, according to a poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The poll, conducted in late May and early June, showed four amendments with the necessary 60 percent of voter support. They are:

--- Amendment 1, which would expand the homestead property-tax exemption. It was placed on the ballot by the Legislature, with the chamber survey showing 67 percent of voters in support, 22 percent opposed and 11 percent undecided.

Cemex mining operations expansion approved

County commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA), CPAM 1702 that will allow the Cemex Corporation to expand mining operations.  At the regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on June 12, 2018, concerned citizens again filled the chamber to protest the plan.  Employees of Cemex were also in attendance, however none spoke to the commissioners.

Revisions to come for Reclaimed Water Master Plan, Septic to Sewer project tabled for now

A workshop was held on June 5, 2018 for the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to consider the development of a Reclaimed Water Master Plan (RWMP) and hear updates on the status of the Septic to Sewer (S2S) project.  Three members of the board decided to have staff review and revise the RWMP and not support the S2S project due to high cost and uncertain funding.  Commissioner Jeff Holcomb was not present at the meeting.

Tourism boost sought after Alberto blows through

TALLAHASSEE --- As winds and rains let up from Subtropical Storm Alberto, Florida officials Tuesday were quickly spinning ways to draw tourists to areas that may have missed out on Memorial Day crowds.

State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Gov. Rick Scott, during an appearance at the Walton County Emergency Operations Center in DeFuniak Springs, expressed a need for Visit Florida, the state’s public-private tourism arm, to emulate post-Hurricane Irma promotional efforts for the Panhandle and other parts of the state.

BOCC approves agreement with SWFWMD for Weeki Wachee carrying capacity study

The Weeki Wachee River has been a frequent subject of discussion in recent years, primarily due to its popularity.  The number of people visiting the river, usually on watercraft has raised concerns of safety, damage to the riverbanks, litter, and harm to wildlife.

Based on these discussions, a Carrying Capacity Study agreement was signed between Hernando County and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD),  each paying $125,000 to conduct the study, which is to begin on June 1, 2018 and conclude in December 2019.  

Barclay Widening Project

On May 22, 2018, the Board of the County Commissioners met to approve the Barclay Avenue Widening Project. They are planning on widening the road from two lanes to four lanes. This project had been a part of Hernando County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan since around the year 2005. The Board was allowed to obtain property from Samir and Samar Shakfeh, residents of Barclay Avenue. The cost to acquire the Shakfeh properties which includes attorney’s fees, damages, and extra costs for additional right-of-way along Barclay Avenue is $325,000.

Hernando County BOCC to Consolidate Fire Fee Structure Eliminating a 0.5 mil Tax

The Hernando County Board of County Commissioners is considering eliminating a fire protection ad valorem tax and modifying the current fire protection Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU) rates to fund the fire department. This consolidation provides for fire assessments based on a court-tested benefit methodology where fees are consistently applied to all properties within certain categories.

Citizens unhappy with garbage rate hikes and MSBU for mandatory areas

The Board of County Commissioners found themselves in a quandary, having signed a contract with Republic Waste Management establishing several unpopular service changes including rate increases in the face of poor job performance by Republic.  To not approve the Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU) assessment establishment on the May 22, 2018 agenda would be in breach of their contract with Republic. In the end, the board voted unanimously to establish the MSBU.
The 6th amendment to the contract with Republic was adopted and signed October 24, 2017, and included the following:

Tax 'holiday' to trim cost of stocking up for storms

TALLAHASSEE --- With a sales-tax “holiday” starting next week, retailers are expecting big spending on disaster-preparedness supplies by Floridians who have fresh memories of Hurricane Irma.

The six-month hurricane season arrives June 1, along with a weeklong period in which state and local sales taxes will be lifted on a list of disaster supplies. The discount period, for example, means about 90 cents to $1.05 in sales taxes will not be applied to a $15 package of batteries or $45 to $52 is left off the purchase of a generator that costs $750.

County loosens restrictions on where employees with a concealed weapon license can carry

At the May 8, 2018 Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) regular meeting, the board voted unanimously to allow county workers with valid Concealed Weapon License, commonly known as a “concealed carry” to have their firearms in their possession while conducting county business.   Chairman Steve Champion began the discussion by reviewing his directive to the appropriate staff to “Look at surrounding counties and the actions they’ve had regarding policies that go above and beyond what the state law requires regarding concealed weapon holders.”