County Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. said Citrus County was in danger of going over the “financial cliff” when he took office four years ago.

But thanks in part to his budgetary prowess, the county has gone from financially strapped to fairly debt-free in four years, he said.

Kitchen credits that to County Administrator Randy Oliver and his own insistence on budgetary scrutiny and transparency. He said his recommendation of creating a separate commissioners’ savings account for better money savings also created greater accountability.

Kitchen, 62, is seeking a second four-year term representing District 2 to, he said, put into motion projects to move Citrus County forward.

Those projects include: development of an economic development plan, continued efforts to clean up the springs and making Citrus County more business-friendly by maintaining a consistent, stable tax base.

“We have a plan everyone has bought into, and we’re moving in the right direction,” said Kitchen, who attributed that to recently hired Economic Development Director Bruce Register.

Under his watch, Kitchen said fire services was once again brought under the wing of the county and morale is up.

The county, he said, adopted a new fertilizer ordinance designed to reduce nutrient contamination of sensitive springs and King’s Bay.

The space needs of the elected constitutional officers’ was a concern four years ago. No longer, he said.

New-home construction has rebounded with the economy, he said.

If re-elected, he will continue to push for the Suncoast Parkway extension to proceed to State Road 44 and then on to U.S. 19 at Red Level, north of Crystal River — the original proposed route.

Kitchen said he has stayed abreast of public concerns, in part, through his periodic constituent meetings where he gauges residents’ concerns and tries to find solutions before they become issues and money-drainers.

He also believes his work as a member of the Citrus County Tourist Development Council has brought more visitors and money to the area. It’s vital, he said, that the county continue to invest in tourism because it is an economic engine for Citrus.

He remembers four years ago when “not a dime" was spent on road resurfacing projects. Today, roads are being resurfaced and that problem has abated, he said.

Kitchen said the working relationships between the county and the cities of Crystal River and, especially, Inverness have improved.

“I don’t think the relationships (with) the two cities have ever been better than they are now,” he said.

The next four years will be crucial, he said, because the county needs to develop a transition plan in case Administrator Oliver leaves.

“We need to get people in the pipeline and we can’t wait until the last minute,” he said.

These next four years will also be important as Citrus County decides what direction it wants to go. He believes it will take a commissioner who has faced the issues and knows how to proceed.

“We’ve turned the ship around,” he said. “Now, let’s go somewhere.”

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com

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(11) comments

RJSchlabach

@Lonewolf, I have read your many comments on your profile. You have a lot of them! Perhaps we should meet before you give me a character reference publicly!
As the 8th child (# 8 of 9) of a Army Air Corp, WWII Decorated Pilot and an R.N., you might want to know that, I am a business woman, a property owner, a wife of 25 years and a mother of twins. I am far from weak! I would be happy to speak with the person behind the curtain and I am sure you will have a different opinion of me. Not that it really matters, because most bullies like to hide. Are you a bully? I hope not. Because, I don't like bullies! You can ask anyone that really knows me. I am sure we must have one neighbor in common. After all we live in a small County. It is not easy to put yourself out there to help, to serve and also not have a selfish motive. By putting my name on the ballot for County Commissioner, I Obviously want to help our community, we can raise the bar. Perhaps you should run for Commissioner? I notice you don't use your name? Interesting! And this is my opinion of you. How does it feel? Ruthie

lonewolf

Thank you for the kind words.

lonewolf

Thou does protest too much. No evaluation of your character was given. Your tirade may confirm that you do not have the temperament to be a Commissioner. See how it works. You assume things about me and I assume things about you. Win a seat by addressing the issues instead of insulting someone whose vote you seek

lonewolf

Ron Kitchen appears to be the best of a weak field of opponents.

commonsense

He pulled the plug on Tuesday when he voted for more taxes on tuesday (impact fee) cannot see how raising impact fees is business friendly.

JIMPHILLIPS

I'm sorry. I voted for Xommissioner Kitxhen first time around but can't do it second time. He says he's informed and keeps up with issues. If he's so informed why doesn't he answer emails? If he's informed why doesn't he know what an HR person's duties are? If hes so informed why didn't he stop the destruction of 150 year old oak trees at 44 and 486 intersection? As the song says, on and on, could keep going on and on.

Stevecanyon

I agree with this comment.
Also,
What ship is Kitchen on?

TOMP

As I understand it...he lived on a boat in Crystal River. Now rents in SMW. Has paid only about $300 in Citrus County property taxes...so you can see how vested he is in our County budget process. Still waiting for his list of specific benefits the SC2 will bring to the citizens of the County...and oh, BTW...he is the one who told Commish Adams NOT to mention routing the SC2 to US19 to the I-75 Relief Task Force...or he would remove him from that assignment. Watch the video.

Crankyankee

Commissioner Kitchen's insistence on fiscal responsibility and decorum has been welcome, but, sadly, he is in the corner of the overdevelopers and pavers who will destroy the remaining character of Citrus County.

sitecer

Mt Kitchen IMHO is a career politician with double jointed arms which allow him to pat his own back. I have lived here for just 2 years now but don't see him standing up for the needs and concerns of his own district. He will not have my vote this fall.

whoever

I agree. Everybody who has been in Citrus County less than 40 years should be forced to pack up and get out, because all you people have ruined this place with your asphalt and big fancy homes paying for it. We should pull up all he fire hydrants and dig up asphalt and go back to dirt roads with no stop lights, then the stores will close, and trees will start growing on hiway 44. C YA.

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