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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

Property tax plan would return mosquito control to Brooksville

Published:   |   Updated: July 22, 2014 at 06:14 PM

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— Mosquito control would return to Brooksville thanks to a new funding plan proposed Tuesday by county commissioners.

The board voted 4-1 to kill the existing property tax for mosquito control and fold that operation into the general fund. The move would allow spraying to begin again in Brooksville on Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

But to do that, commissioners had to raise the general fund property tax rate from roughly $6.87 per $1,000 of property value to roughly $6.99.

County Commissioner Dave Russell, who proposed the idea, said the slight general fund rate hike would result in a wash for taxpayers because they will no longer be paying for mosquito control through a separate taxing method.

It also helps put a dent in the $642,829 shortfall facing the county. But not by much. The board directed staff to look for other cuts and revenue-producing options to make up the entirety of the budget shortfall for fiscal year 2014-15.

Commissioners stressed that this plan is only a proposal and could change by the end of budget season in September.

The county stopped mosquito spraying in March because of a dispute over the funding mechanism.

In November 2012, voters passed a non-binding referendum which led to the creation of a special tax to pay for mosquito control in Hernando County.

Commissioners set a cap of one-tenth of a mill, which started in fiscal year 2013. The city of Brooksville did not opt into the tax but the county continued to provide mosquito spraying.

The county billed the city for the service but never received payment.

In fiscal year 2014, the city passed an ordinance to opt into the tax as long as the rate did not exceed the one-tenth of a mill.

At the last minute, the city rendered the ordinance null and void because of the lack of an agreement with the county. So to provide the required level of service, the county had to subsidize mosquito control through the general fund, which led to an increase to that tax rate, according to Russell.

County Commissioner Nick Nicholson cast the sole dissenting vote because he didn’t want to go against the wishes of the people who voted in 2012 for the special mosquito control tax.

“It needs to stay where it is,” he said.

Brooksville Mayor Kevin Hohn said he is pleased with the renewal of spraying on Oct. 1. Hohn said the city is negotiating with the county on resuming the service before Oct. 1 because the summer mosquito season is here.

“We’re exploring a resolution and hope to have something soon,” said Hohn who praised the cooperative effort between both governmental entities.

In other news:

♦ County commissioners approved three separate economic incentive packages that would bring 73 jobs to Hernando County.

Those companies are Barrette Outdoor Living, Tradesmith LLC, and Premier Pharmacy Labs. The economic incentives total $219,000, to be paid out over the next five years.

(352) 544-5290

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