Sunday, December 17, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Code enforcement vital to county mission

If Pasco County wants to tell its story, it must be sure it is a story worth telling. During budget deliberations last week, commissioners killed a plan to add code enforcement officers as too pricey then set aside money to create a public information officer's position.

The focus on public relations before public health, safety and welfare shows skewed priorities. Why hire a communications professional to spread the county's message if that message is so contrarian?

The county would be wiser to add public information tasks to the job description of one of its tourist development staffers. It could then pay for those additional duties from its general fund, which would answer legal concerns about using tourist tax money for non-tourism promotion. It also could be cheaper than setting aside $70,000 for salary, benefits and supplies for a new position.

More to the point, however, the penny-pinching surrounding code enforcement is simply misguided. The department focuses on aesthetics — abandoned cars, trash, overgrown lots, piles of junk tires — that can signal a residential area's potential deterioration, reduced property values and increased crime.

Originally, administrators proposed hiring four new officers costing nearly $300,000. The new staff would help clean up residential and commercial districts through proactive enforcement rather than answering complaints. To appease commissioners worried about the size of a proposed property tax increase, staff whittled the plan to just $135,000 for two positions. Code enforcement currently has 14 officers, down from 24 in 2008.

The downsized plan still failed to gain support from a board majority. It was unfortunate. Commissioner Kathryn Starkey told how she recently joined a code officer for a tour of Veterans Village in southwest Pasco and counted 40 code violations along just three streets. To their credit, Starkey and Commissioner Pat Mulieri supported the appropriation after originally objecting last month.

But, they weren't the only ones to have a change of heart. Commissioner Henry Wilson, who endorsed the idea in June, retreated last week, saying the new hires should be put off for a year. Commissioners Ted Schrader and Jack Mariano shared his sentiment.

Wilson and Mariano, whose districts include portions of west Pasco, should think again in light of the county's fledgling long-term redevelopment plan for the U.S. 19 and coastal corridor. The commission's spending decisions fail to recognize the importance of stopping blight. Protecting the county's aging areas from falling into further disrepair should be a higher priority for a county than wants to market itself as a premiere place to live and work.

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Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

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Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

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Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

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Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

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Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

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Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

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Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

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Published: 12/12/17