Thursday, January 18, 2018
Editorials

Enforcing $2 parking fee helps to preserve our park system

Pasco County correctly is stepping up enforcement of its $2 daily parking fee at 11 county parks not because its hungry for more cash, but to curb the great potential for abuse.

As Times staff writer Lee Logan reported, county staffers now have the authority to write parking citations, relieving deputies from the low-priority chore of policing parking lots.

Without proper enforcement — and county staffers acknowledge their personnel will only make spot checks, not regularly scheduled patrols — the public temptation to skip the $2 fee is unfair to those obeying the rules and to the regular park patrons who paid $60 for their annual passes.

The county adopted the parking fee in fall 2010 as a way to help offset a parks department budget whacked by $2 million, or more than a third of its total, and the loss of 46 positions over the past four years. The fees, however, only brought in half of the projected $650,000 over the first year. Park volunteers told of frequent scofflaws and Parks Director Rick Buckman admitted plenty of public questions about the lack of uniform enforcement.

That should now change with parks employees trained as parking enforcers working under Pasco Sheriff's Office authority, much the way citizen patrols issue tickets to cars parked illegally in handicapped spaces.

The chagrin from scofflaws and the grumbling from those paying under protest should be tempered, however, by a fact they don't like to acknowledge — Pasco's parks remain a bargain. Pinellas County now charges $5 daily to park at nearby Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin charges $8 per vehicle and Hernando County's Pine Island Park charges $5 daily from Feb. 15 through mid-November ($2 the other three months of the year) and an annual pass there costs $75. Even the charge to park at the Suncoast Bike trail is cheaper in Pasco ($2) than Hernando ($3).

Maintaining valuable public assets like parks and libraries becomes more difficult each year for local governments in the wake of sliding real estate values, spending limits and property tax exemptions. A modest fee is a prudent way to pass on some of those expenses to the people using the service.

Issuing parking tickets isn't politically popular, but its a prerequisite to preserving Pasco's acclaimed park system.

Comments

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18