The Rundown: August 2019

BOCC 8/27/19

  • Launching into a monologue about the woes of the rich, Commissioner Champion described what the average tax increase will be for those who own more in property value. One example the commissioner pointed to was Cemex, claiming they will face at least a 10% tax increase. Commissioner Champion went on to repeat a common myth: businesses have no alternative but to pass on the taxes they owe to their customers. However, businesses can choose not to maximize their profits by any means necessary and increase their prices when they are asked to pay their fair share for existing in our community. 
  • The commission revisited the idea of pushing our state legislature to loosen Sunshine Law restrictions. Commissioner Dukes went on the defensive saying, “we just talked about it” and no decisions were actually made. The point is, if given the chance our commission could choose to make decisions without public input. In the light of the Sunshine Laws, the people of Hernando can push back against such inane ideas.
  • Despite public opposition, the unsolicited offer of a Hernando Beach property was accepted by the county with a 4-0 vote. The property is appraised for $152,000, but will be purchased for $400,000. Gary Schraut, the realtor representing the property, recently made campaign contributions to the two commissioners up for reelection and is a partner in the business at which Commissioner Holcomb is represented as a realtor. The property was purchased with a gas tax and not impact fees. Commissioner Mitten wished to clarify to the public that impact fees cannot help the General Fund deficit because they are part of a different fund.

The residents of Hernando County should be more concerned with campaign contributions to a BOCC that refuses to listen to their concerns than businesses not liking to pay their fair share. If a business wishes to pass on costs to the consumer, then the people have the right to spend their money elsewhere — corporations only win if we let them.

This meeting’s most absurd comment goes to Steve Champion for his propagation of the myth that people must pay more because a private company wishes to redirect costs.

“This is going to translate into something, and these businesses aren’t going to eat this.” — Commissioner Champion

You can view this meeting’s materials here.

BOCC 8/13/19

  • After public comment requesting commission assistance regarding public petitions to remove mandatory trash zones, Commissioner Champion brought up the issue of citizen referendums and the number of petitions needed. County Attorney, Garth Collier, indicated that a majority vote would be needed to pass the referendum, but no concrete number is given in the state statute. F.S. 166.031 states that petitioners within a municipality needs to acquire 10% of the previous general election’s registered voters to be put on the ballot. A majority vote in support of the referendum will amend the municipality’s charter.
  • Public comment regarding extending Hernando County’s public transit indicated a need for weekend service, more frequent service, and later service to strengthen existing services. Bus riders themselves were surveyed and responded the same way. After an explanation that most public transit, especially in Florida, needs to be subsidized, the BOCC voted to extend transit services. The estimated increase in operator costs is $305,000, with about 70% of that cost covered by federal/state funding and the remainder covered by the local option gas tax. A ridership report will be produced within a year. Expansion will include service until 9pm on weekdays and 8-5 service on Saturday.
  • Commissioner Champion described his desire to see criminal liability for not complying with code enforcement. It was explained that this is the current process: if liens and fines do not bring about compliance then an injunction is filed, followed by arrest. Commissioner Champion further claimed that the Property Appraiser’s numbers weren’t adding up correctly. Commissioner Allocco voiced concern with what he saw as the low taxable value of our county, but thought that highrise hotels would boost our tax base; however, this would need the repeal of an ordinance restricting the height of buildings. The commission expressed interest in the property appraiser coming to explain his process to the board.
  • Commissioner Allocco stated that properties with sinkholes are community nuisances and safety hazards. Taxable value is decreased by 40% until repairs are made. Once repaired, the property is decreased in value by 5%. Commissioner Allocco would like to tax them as repaired as a means of “motivating” them into repairs.

The Hernando County Progressive Caucus comprised 69% of the public comment regarding the extension of public transit services in Hernando County. We went on record, along with other residents of our community, and clearly state why Hernando County needs this and gave the reasons. This is the absolute minimum that must be done. If no one speaks up, then this gives those in power the opportunity to deny folks their needs (usually the most marginalized). As the Transit Development Plan rolls out over the next ten years, we’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with everyone to ensure Hernando County has the quality transit system it deserves. As was discussed, there is a statutory mechanism enabling the people of Hernando County to dictate terms — the people have the power.

This meeting’s most absurd comment goes to Commissioner Holcomb and his interest in having the private sector shuttle our children around.

“And maybe it’s a private citizen that says, ‘I’m going to go pick up people that are after school at football, soccer, volleyball, and softball practice, and I’m going to get them home. And I’m going to get them home safely. And I’m going to make some money.” — Commissioner Holcomb

You can view this meeting’s materials here.