Commissioners’ focus at the First Budget Hearing on September 13, 2022 was to cut spending. Chairman Steve Champion and Commissioner Jeff Holcomb warned before the vote that they would oppose the proposed budget considering its additional burden on homeowners in the face of national inflation.
Commissioners sent budget director Toni Brady back to the proverbial drawing board for a nearly 45-minute recess to lower the General Fund’s mileage rate and cut spending elsewhere to make up the difference. Brady came back with an amended budget that transferred approximately $1.8 million to the General Fund.
$30,000 scheduled for TBARTA (Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority) funding was cut from the final proposed budget, $650,000 for Hunter’s Lake and $250,000 for Pine Island dredging. The new budget is also based on $900,000 of Capital Reserves.
The revised General Fund mileage rate was set at 6.9912. This is 7.56% over the reversal rate of 6.4998. The reversal rate refers to the rate that would produce income equal to the previous year’s rate. Essentially, taxes that produce general fund revenue are increasing by 7.56%.
The proposed general fund millage rate was 7.1412, which would have been a 9.87% increase over the reversal rate. This was also the maximum mileage rate established at the July 5, 2022 workshop.
All other proposed millage rates were left unchanged at this meeting.
Chairman Steve Champion led the ensuing discussion, unwavering in his view during previous meetings that he is adamantly opposed to raising taxes. His main directive to Brady was to amend the budget using the mileage of 6.9912.
The result of the changes is a total tentative budget of $661,903,567, which is $14,478,142 below the recommended budget of $647,425,425. This also resulted in a reduction of the county’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) from $174,808,896 to $173,908,896.
During the Citizens’ Feedback segment, several homeowners expressed alarm at the rate of recent tax increases. Also mentioned was a substantial increase in property valuation and the mandatory MSBU (Municipal Services Benefits Unit) that will affect homeowners facing mandatory conversion from septic tanks to sewer in the coming years.
The final budget hearing will take place on September 27, 2022 at 5:01 pm at the Hernando County Courthouse, John Law Ayers Commission Room, Courtroom 160, 20 North Main Street, Brooksville, FL 34601.