Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Politics

Despite reluctance to discuss it, time for county sales tax has come

What was supposed to be an unveiling turned out to be a pep rally.

A month ago, County Administrator Len Sossamon said he had a time and place in mind to roll out plans for a new half-cent sales tax: this week's Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast.

He would not only try to get business people behind the idea, but also produce a list of projects that could be paid for with the tax's roughly $8 million in annual revenue.

Instead, Sossamon spent his time on stage Wednesday telling the crowd that he always liked to "maximize the positive and minimize the negative," that he was creating "jobs, jobs, jobs" by bringing in or retaining several manufacturers, and, finally, that the county, the city of Brooksville and the county school system are like horses powering a "troika."

In case you don't know what that is, and I'm pretty sure that hardly a soul in the room did, Sossamon explained that it's a Russian "carriage or sled pulled by three horses hitched side by side — not one after another, but side by side."

As obviously false as Sossamon's statement was, trying to pass it off as the truth was a noble attempt on his part to round up the three maverick local entities.

Noble, but futile.

The hard feelings created by the County Commission's recent, arrogant refusal to charge school impact fees is actually the least compelling reason for the School Board to go it alone with its half-cent sales tax, which, like the county's, appears headed for a referendum this year.

The School District is just asking for an extension of an existing tax. It desperately needs the money and voters know the schools need it.

I don't know if there will ever be a safe bet that Hernando residents will agree to tax themselves. But if there is, this is it. Not, however, if it's tied to the county's big ask, which is a much shakier proposition.

Still, it is a worthy one.

The county's needs, after years of revenue starvation, are almost as desperate as the schools'. It could really use intersection improvements, expanded boat ramps, new water lines and any number of other projects.

What's more, most people in the room agreed these upgrades are needed.

Think of Don Meredith — or, better yet, Willie Nelson, whose 1967 version is actually a subtle heartbreaker — and sing to yourself, "Turn out the lights, the party's over."

The tea party, I mean. It's hard to understand why Sossamon was reluctant to bring up the idea of the sales tax, because most of the people in this Republican-dominated crowd seemed not only aware of the proposal, but in favor of it.

Hard to believe that not too long ago, this was a party with one plank: shrink the government. And now prominent Republicans I talked to freely tossed around once-verboten phrases such as "invest in the community."

Of course, if there's a kind of tax that they might like, it's a sales tax. It hits regular folks, who spend just about every penny that comes in, harder than people who can afford to set money aside.

But as unfair as it seems to add an inordinate burden on cashiers and landscapers trying to buy clothes for their kids, we can be reassured that, not too long ago, politicians were pandering to them, doubling the homestead exemption and creating extra breaks for veterans, low-income seniors and others, to the point where, last year, 6,615 homeowners paid no county property tax at all.

And, whatever the injustice of a sales tax, it is outweighed by the need.

Take it from banker Jim Kimbrough and Realtor Buddy Selph. Take it from arch-conservative county commissioners Wayne Dukes and Nick Nicholson:

Really, we need to invest in the community.

Comments
23 seek vacant PSC post

23 seek vacant PSC post

There is another Mariano seeking a job in Tallahassee.Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, the father of state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, is seeking an appointment to the Florida Public Service Commission, the powerful board regulating Florida ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Trump administration to take DACA repeal directly to the Supreme Court

Trump administration to take DACA repeal directly to the Supreme Court

SAN FRANCISCO — The Trump administration on Tuesday appealed a judge’s ruling temporarily blocking its decision to end protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants and announced plans to seek a U.S. Supreme Court review even before an ap...
Updated: 3 hours ago
North Korea calls Trump a ‘lunatic’ and a ‘loser’ in response to nuclear button tweet

North Korea calls Trump a ‘lunatic’ and a ‘loser’ in response to nuclear button tweet

North Korea’s official news agency responded Tuesday to President Donald Trump’s controversial "nuclear button tweet," describing it as the "the spasm of a lunatic," according to AP."The spasm of Trump in the new year reflects the desperate mental st...
Published: 01/16/18
‘What do we want? Apology!’ Hundreds of Haiti supporters protest near Mar-a-Lago

‘What do we want? Apology!’ Hundreds of Haiti supporters protest near Mar-a-Lago

Sun Sentinel (TNS)PALM BEACH — About 500 Haitian-Americans and their supporters used the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to protest derogatory comments President Donald Trump reportedly made about immigrants from majority-black countries."What do we w...
Published: 01/15/18

U.S. forced to renew DACA permits as furor over Trump’s immigration slur persists

Los Angeles Times (TNS)WASHINGTON — The Trump administration, under court order, said it would resume taking applications to renew temporary protections from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegall...
Published: 01/14/18
GOP senator: Reports of Trump’s ‘s---hole’ comments a ‘gross misrepresentation’

GOP senator: Reports of Trump’s ‘s---hole’ comments a ‘gross misrepresentation’

A Republican senator is insisting that President Donald Trump did not use a vulgar term in referring to African countries during a closed-door meeting on immigration that he and five other senators attended last week.Georgia Sen. David Perdue called ...
Published: 01/14/18
The Trump-O-Meter: PolitiFact rates Donald Trump's first year

The Trump-O-Meter: PolitiFact rates Donald Trump's first year

By Angie Drobnic Holan PolitiFact Editor Much of Donald Trump’s presidency has been defined by provocative tweets and gloves-off fights. But Trump has used the power of the presidency to move the country toward the overarching vision he ran o...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Ethics panel advised to deny legal fees in unfounded Ken Hagan complaint

Ethics panel advised to deny legal fees in unfounded Ken Hagan complaint

A Florida Ethics Commission staff attorney has drafted an order denying Hillsborough County’s request for reimbursement for attorney fees from one of four citizens who filed unsustained ethics complaints against Commissioner Ken Hagan.The commission ...
Published: 01/12/18
Haitians in Tampa Bay area react to Trump’s slur:

Haitians in Tampa Bay area react to Trump’s slur: "It’s very racist"

Fadia Richardson had just finished dinner Thursday when she sat down to watch the news and saw a report she didn’t want to believe.In an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers to discuss immigration policy earlier in the day, President Donald Trump repor...
Published: 01/12/18
Sen. Durbin says Trump said ‘hate-filled things’

Sen. Durbin says Trump said ‘hate-filled things’

WASHINGTON — A senator present at a White House immigration meeting says President Donald Trump used vulgar language to describe African countries, saying he "said these hate filled things and he said them repeatedly." Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois D...
Published: 01/12/18