Department of Revenue Rules Authority in Violation of Law: Berry's signature on documents
Posted November 12, 2013 10:30 am | graphic updated 11:19 am
COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Columbia County residents will get another bite of the apple at 5:15 tonight when the Lake Shore Hospital Authority will re-do this year's budget hearing. The Governor appointed board will have a chance to roll back the taxes from the proposed 1.5 mils to the amount of its choice. Due to mistakes in the published legal notices the Florida Department of Revenue has required the Lake Shore Hospital to re-advertise and re-hold its FY 2014 budget hearing. The Hospital Authority Manager, Jackson P. Berry, signed the Dept. of Revenue forms and is responsible for the management of the Authority.
In an October 29th letter to Manager Berry, the Dep. of Revenue (DOR) explained the errors in the Truth in Millage law by the Authority:
The Department of Revenue has reviewed the millage certification documents submitted by your taxing authority, as required by sections 200.065 and 200.068, F.S. The following errors are violations of the TRIM law and must be corrected immediately or you will be subject to the loss of revenue sharing, and the loss of ad valorem revenues from millage in excess of the rolled-back rate.
This is not the first time Mr. Berry has had issues with filing state required documents: Lake Shore Hosp Auth: Jackson P. "Jack" Berry. Ethics Issues Again. Fails to File Financial Disclosures for 2010 & 2011
One Error After Another
The findings of fact by the DOR stated that portions of the property tax levy in the Notice of Proposed Tax Increase advertisement were incorrect. Last year's initially proposed tax levy was understated, and the tax reductions due to value adjustment board and other assessment changes were incorrectly stated.
The DOR concluded that the Notice of Proposed Tax Increase advertisement was in violation of the Florida Statutes.
The DOR gave Mr. Berry the chance to remedy the Authority's violations of the law by re-advertising and holding another budget hearing.
The newly advertised budge does not represent the reduction in millage approved at the illegal budget hearing. The Governor appointed board is not required to roll back the 1.5 mills as represented in the advertisement, however, they can roll it back to the .962 rate approved at the last hearing, or they may roll it back further than that.
On Friday afternoon the Observer called the Authority and tried to contact the $100,000 + Authority Manager Berry for his explanation of the Authority violations. Manager Berry signed the DOR documents
The Observer was told that Mr. Berry was in earlier and was gone.
The Observer asked that Mr. Berry be notified of the inquiry. Mr. Berry did not respond.
The Lake City Reporter, whose stated role is to "support and boost its local community," did not follow up after it ran the required public notice.