- After citizen comment a majority of the commission partook in mocking Hernando County residents who they found to be asking “ridiculous” questions about our services, the budget, and other important local issues.
- After more discussion than was necessary, the BOCC voted to deny the rate increase for Republic Services despite their contractual obligations and hinted at further action regarding poor service on the part of Republic Services as a breach of contract. While the vote was unanimous, Commissioners Dukes and Holcomb were uncharacteristically mild mannered in their opposition, often defending Republic Services. Both defended the poor service as a welcome alternative to higher costs and have received campaign contributions from Republic Services.
- The county’s IT Services department was eliminated — cutting $300,000 — and will be shored up by the County Clerk’s IT services. Commissioner Mitten, who was not elected by the people of Hernando but appointed by the previous Governor, made the motion that will result in the firing of personnel. Commissioner Allocco, up for re-election, seconded the motion, and the commission applauded the savings after voting to further “eliminate redundancies.”
- With a 3-2 vote, the commission voted to move forward with implementing a 1 mill increase (an increase of 14% to the millage rate) that will raise about $9 million. This millage increase will primarily be used to maintain public services and replenish county reserves, which should be 18.5% of the General Fund.
- Commissioner Champion reiterated his concerns regarding spending by constitutionals: Sheriff, Supervisor of Election, Clerk of Court, Property Appraiser, and Tax Collector. The BOCC does not control the budget of the last two constitutionals. The budget of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office hovers around half of the General Fund, and is only expected to increase.
- Commissioners voted 3-2 to explore the possibility of purchasing parcels in Hernando Beach in order to expand boat trailer parking. They are considering purchasing between 1 and 4 parcels with costs ranging between $700,000-$3.4 million. A large portion of the funding for this project could come from recreational impact fees collected throughout the county. As Commissioner Mitten expressed, it may not be fair to use a significant portion of the fees collected throughout the county to improve only one small part of the county.
The BOCC made it clear that a savings of $300,000 is worthwhile, despite the small impact that it will have on our deficit, so shouldn’t the commission itself forfeit funding when the county is facing such cuts? Each commissioner earns $70,000 annually, while the County Administrator earns almost $169,000. If we are all in this together, then why doesn’t the BOCC — which is responsible for the county budget — take even the slightest cut? A budget is not just a financial document; it is a statement of our values.
This meeting’s most absurd comment goes to Commissioner Allocco and his lust for cuts to the local government.
- As a July 30th public hearing on increasing collection fees for Republic Services nears, the commissioners spoke out against raising taxes and fees. Commissioners Allocco and Champion voiced their concerns, while Commissioner Dukes, whose campaign has received contributions from Republic Services, was lackluster in his response. Chairman Holcomb, who was also a recipient of Republic Services’s dollars, was not present.
- Sunrise Consulting, the county’s lobbying firm, presented a legislative update and county concerns. Sunrise’s Shawn Foster made it clear that the HCSD lost $1 million in funding because of its refusal to institute a Guardian program. The sheriff has been against this program from the start; however, it was noted that current legislation allows school districts to go outside of their county to seek Guardian training.
- Many in the county received a notice regarding changes to the Solid Waste Disposal Assessment, which is being increased in order to fund (i) $300,000 in unfunded, mandated leechate, (ii) $19 million in the construction of a new landfill cell, and (iii) $2 million in the building up of an emergency storm fund. The resolution to increase the disposal assessment by approximately $6 per household was approved. The commission will need to individually approve further increases.
The quality of service offered by Republic Services has been so abysmal that the county should not approve any increase — no matter how small. The disposal assessment has not been increased in 15 years and, as the county staff explained in detail, is needed. As the largest cost is the construction of additional landfills, our community should invest in county recycling and composting programs. Recycling/composting can generate revenue and lengthen the lifespan of our landfills, thereby saving the taxpayers money and bettering our local environment.
This meeting’s most absurd comment goes to Commissioner Champion and his view that facts are being used as scare tactics.