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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

Residents shouldering most of tax base


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Residents continue to bear the largest share of the tax burden in Hernando County.

Property appraiser records show 61.2 percent of the taxable value in the county for fiscal year 2013-14 is residential property while 23.2 percent is commercial.

The remaining 15.6 percent is tangible personal property, which is all property not considered real estate and largely doled out by businesses for equipment, furniture and fixtures.

The statistics come just as the “Truth in Millage” (TRIM) proposed tax notices are starting to hit residents’ mailboxes this week, letting people know how much they will be paying in annual taxes.

For fiscal year 2012-13, the tax distribution ratio was 60.2 percent residential and 22.5 percent commercial, with the remainder made up of tangible personal property.

Residents took the biggest bite of taxes in fiscal year 2010-11, when they accounted for 65.5 percent.

County Commissioner Dave Russell said Hernando County residents are not faring as badly as people in some other Florida counties when it comes to the tax breakdown.

And when the tangible personal property paid out by businesses is added into the equation, it shows that residents are not shouldering as much of the tax burden, he said.

“In comparison with the other counties, I think we’re doing very well,” Russell said. “But there is always room for improvement.”

Russell said the county administrator’s goal has been to bring in more business and industry to help lessen the residents’ load and he is confident the county will move in that direction. “We’re trying to diversify the economy,” Russell said.

Property appraiser data show that of the 115,556 total parcels in Hernando County, 102,598 are residential and 12,958 are commercial.

Citrus County showed a sharp decrease in residential taxes: from a high of 58.4 percent in fiscal year 2010-11 to 46.4 percent this year.

Hillsborough County, with 60.6 percent of residents making up the tax base, was similar to Hernando County this fiscal year. The commercial sector in Hillsborough accounted for 28.4 percent, compared to 23.2 percent in Hernando.

But other surrounding counties posted higher residential participation: Pinellas County (70.0 percent), Sumter County (78.7 percent) and Pasco County (69.8 percent).

George Zoettlein, assistant county administrator of budget and business development, said it is best when the commercial sector pays more and relieves residential property owners.

A 50-50 split would be nice, he said.

But even though Hernando County’s residential distribution is higher than commercial, it hasn’t moved drastically upward in recent years.

County Administrator Len Sossamon agrees he would like to see commercial interests pay a larger percentage of the county’s taxes then they do now.

“My goal is to bring more businesses to the county, taking a portion of the tax burden off the shoulders of the residents,” he said. “We’ve had some successes this year with businesses expanding and relocating here and I anticipate more in the near future.”

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