MSTU and CEMEX Expansion Met Their Fate at Today’s BOCC Meeting
BROOKSVILLE – Two hotly contested agenda items met their fate in front of the Board of County Commissioners today, after both issues faced fierce opposition from residents and elected officials.
The proposed Municipal Serving Tax Unit (MSTU) placed on the table by Comm. Wayne Dukes, barely got off the ground this morning, before it went down in flames.
Proponents of the proposed tax believed it would create more transparency within the Sheriff’s Office, but Sheriff Al Nienhuis, present at this morning board meeting, said “I don’t think anybody is more transparent that your sheriff.”
Initially, due to the extremely short notice provided to Sheriff Nienuis (1 ½ days), regarding the impending vote, the Board agreed to postpone the debated until May 12th. Prior to the motion, Comm. Diane Rowden asked to clarify a rumor that she was the one who brought the MSTU to the table. Rowden blames a “particular blog” for saying that she was responsible for the proposition and says “They do it for political reasons or self-empowerment – a calculated smear campaign, orchestrated by these folks.” Comm. Dukes quickly accepted the responsibility after Comm. Rowden’s comments.
Sheriff Nienhuis asked to comment before the proposal was placed back on the agenda for May 12th debate, hoping to squash the issue where it stood. “There are definitely some serious operational and back office and fiscal issues,” said Nienhuis. “I’m concerned that this MSTU will cause additional work load on my HR and Operational Staff… If a property tax goes through the entire burden will be on the backs county property owners… Right now, it is visitors and owners that bear the burden.”
Comm. Adkins said “I think we’re transparent enough and that goes with all the constitutional officers.”
Comm. Jeff Holcomb chimed in by saying “I’m concerned with what we don’t know… I don’t feel comfortable with it.”
A motion to withdraw the item from the agenda was entered, and the MSTU was removed.
The second issue facing Board members today; the Cemex’ proposed Comprehensive Plan, was surprisingly withdrawn by the petitioner, after hours of public comments opposing the 573 acre mining expansion.
According to officials, Comm. Adkins motioned to deny the application which was seconded by Comm. Rowden. “The petitioner (Cemex) did not have the opportunity to provide public comment before the motion was made,” said Comm. Nicholson, prompting a 5 minute recess. Upon return, the petitioner withdrew his petition – ending the public hearing.
Concerns of pollution, habitat destruction, and potential damage to a nearby African-American Veteran Cemetery prompted strong opposition from residents all over the county.
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Co-authored by Dana Colon