During Correspondence to Note of the Tuesday Aug. 4, 2017 BOCC meeting, Commissioner Champion brought up for discussion the recent financial turmoil in the City of Brooksville. The subject rehashed some old turmoil among commissioners in relation to a potential Sheriff’s Office Municipal Service Taxation Unit (MSTU).
Basically, the city is considering cutting their police force in half, getting rid of it all together or asking the county to create an MSTU for the Sheriff’s Office so that the city can opt out of it. Currently the city is “double taxed” having to fully pay for both the Sheriff’s Office and the city police department in their ad valorem taxes. Currently city residents are paying nearly 14 mills in both city and county ad valorem. Based on recent budget discussions the city’s ad valorem will have to increase or the city may face bankruptcy.
Commissioner Champion said, “If I were in the city of Brooksville, I would not want to pay 14 mills to pay for two police departments. They pay for the full thing for the Sheriff’s Office…” It was mentioned that the Sheriff’s Office portion of the tax bill is about 3 mills.
The city council will consider sending a letter to the commission asking for the Sheriff’s Office MSTU.
Positions on the MSTU have not really changed.
Commissioner Nicholson was agreeable to the MSTU so that the city can opt out of it. He also explained,
“I’ve said this before, it gives the Sheriff his own tax base. It’s his money… I’ve been in favor of this for 5 years. I’m still in favor of it.”
Chairman Dukes has also been pro MSTU for transparency on the tax bill.
Commissioner Holcomb stated that an “MSTU on the citizens of the county is going to negatively affect them. It’s going to increase their taxes.”
He said that we shouldn’t be going to the city with a plan to fix their problems, they should come to us and talk about it.
Holcomb also stated that currently the city’s fire department has only a third of the staffing they need to fight fires. “The county is supplementing their fire department… We’re supplementing them with ⅔’s of their fire department. That is a huge problem.”
Commissioner Allocco said, “There’s plenty of transparency in the Sheriff’s budget. We’ll need to be very transparent as to what resources the city of Brooksville is receiving from Hernando County and how much those resources are going to cost them.” If they opt out of an MSTU, then the assistance they receive from the sheriff’s office is no longer mutual aid and could be as costly as being double taxed.
In the meantime, the county will wait for correspondence from the city.