Monday, May 28, 2018
News Roundup

Commission passes its first test on sales tax, but others await

School kids have exams this time of year. On Tuesday, the Hernando County Commission had its big test.

While finally getting around to talking publicly about a planned sales tax referendum, it got to show whether it has mastered a couple of basic concepts.

Do commissioners realize that they, not business leaders, have to get out in front of this issue? And do they understand how badly they need the help of the county School Board?

Well, at least they got the first part right.

All of the commissioners voted to move forward with the process for placing on the ballot the 10-year, 1-cent tax that would be split between the schools and the county.

And three commissioners did more than vote. They argued for the tax. They showed some leadership.

That might not have been so difficult for Diane Rowden, the lone Democrat. It was no doubt tougher for the two Republicans to show they actually are willing to fight for a new tax.

By pointing out the several advantages of a sales tax, by coming out and saying that it is a necessary investment, Chairman Wayne Dukes almost made up for shutting down the discussion of the tax when it should have happened — two weeks ago, before business leaders made their first appeal to the School Board.

And Commissioner Nick Nicholson almost made up for being the most dismissive and arrogant regarding the School Board's needs in March, when school folks came before the commission — on "bended knee," in the words of School Board member Dianne Bonfield — to ask for the reinstatement of school impact fees.

Of all the commissioners who spoke Tuesday, Nicholson sounded the most eager to work with the School Board.

Why was this advocacy so necessary?

Because, for too long, too much of the planning for this tax has been done in private meetings called by business people.

Because it's not going to escape voters' attention that more money invested in roads and other improvements will likely mean more contracts for, say, the engineering firm of Cliff Manuel, one of the main advocates of the new tax.

Because people will wonder why they are being asked to pay a new tax when one of the groups in favor of it, the builders, has received so many breaks on an established tax, the impact fees charged on new construction.

In other words, by allowing the business leaders — along with, to be fair, County Administrator Len Sossamon — to take the lead on this tax, commissioners took a big risk: that the public would start to wonder if the businesses are not only for this tax, but if it is mainly for these businesses.

It is, of course, but mainly in a way that benefits us all: This tax is the minimum public investment needed to ensure the same from the private side.

To really make this point, commissioners need to work with the schools, where the need for public investment is most obvious.

For all the talk about unity with the schools, School Board members, especially Bonfield, made it clear last week that their cooperation is by no means a sure thing — and that the School District's original plan for its own half-cent sales tax is easier to justify and has a better chance of passage.

So, whatever the local government equivalent of flowers and a card is, that's what the county needs to deliver.

The next time this issue comes up before the School Board, at least one commissioner should be there to make nice or maybe offer concessions. Ideally, the commission would reconsider its insulting, boneheaded vote on school impact fees.

At the very least, this commissioner needs to state the obvious — that the county needs the School District a lot more than the School District need the county.

Comments

Forecast: Alberto leaves clouds, rain in its wake for Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — While some Tampa Bay residents were pleasantly surprised to catch a glimpse of some Sunday afternoon sunshine while Subtropical Storm Alberto loomed in the Gulf of Mexico, that doesn’t bring the promise of a beach day to end the Memo...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
PolitiFact Florida: Did Adam Putnam oppose putting troops on the border using the National Guard?

PolitiFact Florida: Did Adam Putnam oppose putting troops on the border using the National Guard?

In Florida’s Republican primary for governor, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis challenged Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s credibility on illegal immigration.DeSantis cast Putnam as not being conservative enough on immigration in a chat May 2 with radio ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough’s film incentive has attracted $1.17 million in local spending, audits show

Hillsborough’s film incentive has attracted $1.17 million in local spending, audits show

TAMPA — When Steve Matzkin agreed to serve as executive producer on a movie project titled Not Alone, he set a condition: It had to be made in Tampa.For starters, the community is a fitting backdrop for the independent horror film about a family who ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Unflinching sentinel stood and walked to honor the fallen at Arlington’s tomb

Unflinching sentinel stood and walked to honor the fallen at Arlington’s tomb

Monday morning, thousands of people will make their way to Arlington National Cemetery for the Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Many more will watch on TV.The cube-shaped marble monument high on a grassy hill is...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Alberto takes aim on Panhandle; how local Starbucks handle trespassing; Arlington National Cemetery’s Sentinels; Shania Twain here this week

The Daystarter: Alberto takes aim on Panhandle; how local Starbucks handle trespassing; Arlington National Cemetery’s Sentinels; Shania Twain here this week

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• As Subtropical Storm Alberto continues on its north-northwest track to the Panhandle, today’s forecast for Tampa Bay calls for scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms, accordi...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Hooper: Putnam should do Publix a favor and give money back

Adam Putnam should give back the $670,000 Publix and its executives donated to his campaign. People far wiser than me about politics say I’m wrong (that’s not a first). They insist such a move would make Putnam appear weak, capitulating to the so-cal...
Published: 05/28/18
Meteorologists are calling Alberto a 'subtropical storm.' What the heck is that?

Meteorologists are calling Alberto a 'subtropical storm.' What the heck is that?

The governor declared a state of emergency. Local marquee events for Sunday were canceled. The threat of bad weather brought by a subtropical storm named Alberto loomed over Tampa Bay for much of the weekend. But, in the end, the area dealt with on...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Austin Pruitt has started and worked out of the bullpen, in both short and long relief.But he did not expect to pick up his second career save Sunday by having to log 5⅔ innings, allowing only three hits whi...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Floodwaters surge in Maryland town

Floodwaters surge in Maryland town

Crews were engaged in multiple water rescues and buildings collapsed in historic Ellicott City on Sunday evening as floodwaters raged through its streets following torrential thunderstorms, Howard County, Maryland, officials said.Maryland Gov. Larry ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

So the team that just got back from a 10-day, 11-game road trip in three time zones is headed back out west for Memorial Day? The Rays travel to Oakland, Calif., Seattle and Washington, D.C. It's the first time they visited the West Coast on back-to-...
Updated: 10 hours ago