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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Sheriff to save $1.6 million

Jeff Schmucker Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:54 PM

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Sheriff Al Nienhuis met his directive to cut another $1.3 million — and then some — from his budget without making cuts to staff and programs.

He even saved the county additional monies by taking oversight of animal services and returned some reimbursements to the county.

Despite Nienhuis' cuts and those made in other constitutional offices, county commissioners are still left with a roughly $1.5 million budget shortfall to fill either through further cuts or dipping into reserves.

Commissioners will make that determination during the 5:01 p.m. Tuesday public hearing, at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 N. Main St. in downtown Brooksville.

In a news release Friday, Nienhuis announced that he reduced his budget by $1.1 million and returned unspent funds and various reimbursements to the county, which equated to an overall $1.6 million in savings.

That includes taking over officers with Animal Services, which saved the county $300,000. The sheriff said he took over the officer oversight without increasing his budget.

"I appreciate the cooperation from the office of budget management, as well as the county commissioners," Nienhuis said. "All of us are trying to balance protecting the county with the difficulties of these economic times and so I appreciate their working with me.

"Barring any last minute surprises, we should be able to get through this and focus now on the next issue that arises — whatever that may be."

* * * * *

Last month, county commissioners directed him to cut $1.3 million from his budget and were counting on him — along with two other constitutional offices — to help them balance the budget.

However, Budget Manager George Zoettlein said Friday that isn't enough due to fewer ad valorem tax dollars coming in from last year.

"At this point, we either look at making more cuts somewhere first or we use our reserves," Zoettlein said.

County Commissioners Jim Adkins and John Druzbick agree they will likely dip into reserves, since it's too late to look at making more budget cuts.

Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes said he would like the board to consider using additional money from the judicial fund.

"It will be up to the board to approve that," Dukes said. "But obviously we're still spending more money than we make. After this, we need to work on trying to get our costs down. And we need to look at doing that sooner so that we're not having more of these surprises."

Druzbick said he doesn't like the idea of dipping further into reserves, which he said just puts the board in a further bind for next year.

"We're looking at having a $7 million deficit by the 2014 budget. Anything we borrow out of the reserves is just going to make that hole deeper," Druzbick said. "Nobody wants to hear that we may have to increase the millage rate — but if we're not, then we better start coming up with some better ideas."

Currently, the county is looking to approve setting a tax levy of 6.0851 mills — an increase of 0.4572 from the previous year.

Under the 0.4572 rollback scenario, residents would pay $45.72 for every $100,000 in the value of their property.

To view the proposed budget, go to (352) 544-5271

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