Hernando’s huge tax increase may shock homeowners, increase foreclosures
A survey conducted in 2012, is largely responsible for the 24.5 percent property tax increase Hernando County, Fla., residents may face next year.
Many homeowners may also be shocked if the plan is approved because the proposed tax hike is not likely to appear on their August tax notices. That means there will be little opportunity for the 82 percent of residents who are homeowners to challenge the measure.
Moreover, raising property taxes on struggling homeowners may also set off a chain of new foreclosures, making the area’s depressed housing market and decaying, abandon home problems even worse.
The survey results suggest a flawed interpretation on the part of Hernando County Administrator Len Sossamon, who is recommending that County Commissioners implement the largest property tax increase in nearly a decade.
A 12 question survey conducted in December 2012, had a total of 783 respondents, who represent only a small portion of Hernando County’s 173,422 residents.
The proposed property tax increase Sossamon proposes is based on one question, which was skipped by more respondents than any other question in the survey.
Question 12: “Is there a level of revenue increase acceptable if it means preserving current levels of programs and services?
Out of 601 replies, 421 said, “Yes” and 174 said, “No,” with 182 not responding.
The question is misleading because it asks if there is an acceptable “level of revenue increase” without specifying a limit. It also avoids the words “tax increase” which may or may not have been deliberate.
Respondents’ comments published along with the survey paint and entirely different image than the one gleaned from the miniscule public sampling that lead county officials to interpret it as a green light for a massive tax increase.
In addition to remarks about the falling quality of life and lack of services, participants made it clear that the county’s history of favoring the construction industry over public interests, curbing government waste, protecting the environment, and the foreclosure crisis were their top concerns.
- “Economy in Hernando County is not good. There have been many foreclosures and empty houses. Need industry to create jobs that can support a family…”
- “It is absolutely worse. We have greedy, no good commissioners who aren’t looking out for the best interests of the community, just want to get re-elected…”
- “Foreclosures everywhere makes the county look like a dump. Taxes are too high. No good paying jobs or economic growth.”
- “The County Comm. are so consumed with their own greed, nothing is getting done. How about they are paid for only the hours they are actually sitting in the court house. That would save the county hundreds of thousands. Too bad they see it as easy money and not their civic duty. SHAME ON THEM !!!!”
- “All the empty abandoned homes in Spring Hill are an eyesore…Spring Hill was beautiful in the 70’s look at it now. I personally have been fighting rats around my home due to untidy neighbors and abandoned homes.”
- “Area seems to be going downhill, just not as nice as it used to be. Spring Hill Dr. east of 19 looks slumish, it didn’t used to look like that.”
You can read all the comments here.
The proposed property tax increase from 5.9169 mils to 7.3691 mils per 1000 of assessed value is slated to cover a $9.68 million budget gap, maintain some services, and give government employees a 3 percent pay raise.
Hernando County survey results
Hernando County survey comments
Census data for Hernando County, Florida