Sheriff Nienhuis Says Chairman Nicholson Unwilling to Meet – Releases Budget Proposal
HERNANDO – The unstable fault line between the Sheriff’s Office and Board of County Commissioners appears to be widening again, after Sheriff Al Nienhuis says attempts to speak with Chairman Nick Nicholson regarding his FY2016 budget proposal went unanswered.As a result, Nienhuis released the following letter, video, and portions of his proposal to the public this afternoon.
Dear Chairman Nicholson:
My desire is always to maintain transparent and productive communication regarding matters of mutual concern. Therefore, it would have been my preference to review this exciting proposal with you in person. Unfortunately, after several attempts on my part, it is apparent that you are unwilling to meet.
Nonetheless, I think you would agree that there is no more important issue for the citizens of Hernando County than the proper expenditure of tax dollars to ensure public safety. Toward that end, I have some exciting news that I believe will adequately fund my modest and necessary budget increase and, at the same time, allow the BOCC to provide a slight decrease (0.0384) to the current millage (tax) rate. This is a potential savings of almost $300,000 for our citizens.
I, in the interest of being completely transparent, would like to address some facts that should help us avoid unnecessary acrimony, misconceptions, and, most importantly, unnecessary cuts to law enforcement and detention services during Thursday’s hearing.
It is quite clear from information available via public sources that Hernando County will be benefitting from increased revenue for the upcoming budget year. In fact, property tax revenue will increase approximately $1,734,607.84 , sales tax revenue is expected to increase by approximately $493,882 , and revenue sharing increases will total about $284,565 .
This good news means that for the upcoming budget year the County will have approximately $2,513,055 in additional revenue with which to work. This provides the Board of County Commissioners with a tremendous opportunity for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, an opportunity that was apparently missed at the Board meeting on July 28th.
Despite the modest and necessary increases requested by the Sheriff’s Office, the aforementioned increased revenues actually allow for funding all our requested needs and still allow for a modest decrease to the millage (tax) rate. As an example, per your own Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Sheriff’s Office customarily accounts for around 42% of the County’s general fund budget.
If that be the case, it would be appropriate for the Sheriff’s Office to receive that percentage of the County’s additional revenue, or about $1,055,483.03 . Combining those funds with the substantial amount of revenues and excess fees from my FY2015 budget, which we expect to equal $800,000, provides the Board with more than enough to cover the bottom line Sheriff’s Office increase identified by your own OMB to be $1,571,122 . In fact, this plan leaves $284,361.03 to fund other budget needs or, better yet, provide a slight tax rate decrease to the citizens of Hernando County.
Budgeted General Fund Tax Revenue Increase $2,513,055
(with no millage increase)
Sheriff’s historical % of above revenue (42% per OMB) $1,055,483
Sheriff’s Estimated Revenues and Excess fees $800,000
Total Revenue typically allotted to the Sheriff’s budget $1,855,483
Sheriff’s Requested Increase (per OMB) $1,571,122
Excess Revenue for potential Tax Cut
(0.0384 mill reduction) $284,361
This plan, it is important to note, also leaves the usual 58% of this new revenue, in the amount of $1,457,571.81 to fund increases for the other Constitutional Officers and/or the Board.
I hope that this information assists you and the Board in reaching a responsible budget outcome, one that will serve the citizens well—both in the provision of needed funding for important public services and the consideration of returning money to them in the form of a cut in their tax rate. This is an opportunity for the Board to display the transparency that is frequently mentioned during public meetings.
As I stated in my budget submission letter, under my leadership the Sheriff’s Office is committed to ensuring the citizens of Hernando County are afforded the most effective and efficient law enforcement, detention, court, emergency management, and animal enforcement, as well as emergency and non-emergency dispatch services possible.
My budget submission reflects that philosophy by focusing on addressing mandated cost increases, while at the same time my staff works diligently to increase efficiency and save money so as to maximize our annual return of revenues and excess fees to the County. Please see my budget letter for more information on the mandatory increases in my budget, increases that equate to about 1.9%, assuming I return about a week’s worth of FY2015 revenues and excess fees.
I am excited to offer this solution to meet the budget needs of our growing county next fiscal year and I look forward to your leadership in seizing this opportunity for good government rather than unnecessary controversy. I, along with my staff, am always available to discuss these issues in more detail and look forward to providing you and the public a budget overview on Thursday evening.
The following are cited sources for information provided in letter to county commissioners.
Worksheet labeled “County Taxable Value History” at ftp://sdrftp03.dor.state.fl.us/Data%20Books/2015DataBookFiles/county_overview.xls
Obtained by subtracting the FY2015 taxable value from the FY2016 taxable value, multiplying this number by 6.9912 and dividing the result by 1000
The number listed on page 66 (or .pdf page 74 of 296) at
Subtracted from the number on page 4 of 11 at
The number listed on Page 37 (or pdf page 45 of 296) at
from the number listed on page 1 of 2 at
Page 26 of 799 (.pdf) at
Page 23 of 671 (.pdf) at
Page 9 of 587 (.pdf) at
Pages 350 and 394 of 663 (.pdf) at
$2,513,055 X 42%
Page 283 of 533 (.pdf) at
A BOCC meeting is scheduled at 5:01 p.m. Thursday at the Commissioners Chambers inside the Hernando County Courthouse.
RNRF attempted to contact Commissioner Nicholson at his office this afternoon but we have not received a reply.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ™2013 – 2015 Real News Real Fast, Inc.