Friday, June 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Hold commission to library pledge

Hernando commissioners are now an open book on paying for libraries. They are willing to maintain library services, even if it means scrounging $2 million from a cash-strapped general fund budget.

It is a welcome commitment that coincided with an April 23 commission vote to kill a separate tax for libraries. That was prudent and expected. But, the unexpected came in an unambiguous pledge of financial support for the libraries that have had their general fund allocation obliterated from more than $2.6 million in 2008 to less than $90,000 currently.

The county has paid for library operations by burning through accumulated state library aid. Even with state dollars, the county has cut the library budget by 21 percent from $2.9 million in 2008, kept libraries open for fewer hours and eliminated 16 positions from the payroll.

County staff recently suggested a new municipal service taxing district, known as an MSTU, to finance libraries separately from the general fund. The commission quashed that idea, but included a significant caveat.

"This commission, everybody here, is committed to adequately funding our library system to continue the excellent service they're currently providing based on the budget that they submit, if it's reasonable,'' said Commission Chairman David Russell.

"I agree,'' said Commissioner Wayne Dukes. "Absolutely.''

Commissioners now must ensure that commitment is more than lip service.

"Reasonable'' already has been defined. Just minutes earlier, the commission heard the libraries would need $2.4 million in 2014 to maintain current services and that there is only $400,000 available in state library aid. Generating $2 million in the general fund for libraries translates to approximately one-quarter mill of tax or 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value. To the owner of a single-family home valued at $100,000 with homestead exemptions, it means $12.50 a year.

That math is much more palatable than some of the public suggestions from anti-tax advocates including charging $30 for library cards that are now free to Hernando residents, or the discriminatory idea, masked as altruistic, requiring adults older than 35 to pay for library cards in order to ensure children and young adults were not denied access.

The gimmicks are unnecessary. The commission can read the tea leaves. In a recent citizen survey, 63 percent of the respondents said maintaining current government services is more important than lowering taxes and fees.

The public commitment to the county library system is an imperative recognition from the commission of the value of the county's quality-of-life enhancements.

Comments
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18