Impact fees: Pay up or don't build
Once again I have to hear about the poor builders that can't afford to pay the impact fees when they build a house! I can't believe that passing this onto the homeowner on the property tax bill is even a consideration. Give me a break!
When we built our house we had to put up a 10 percent down payment. That was more than enough to pay the impact fees. Why should my mortgage payment go up because builders aren't handling there business finances correctly? My builder and his wife both drove Mercedes and were building a house on the water in Tarpon Springs. I have had enough of passing the buck onto the taxpayer! Find a way to make them pay it or they don't get to build or sell houses.
Kristen Schram, Brooksville
Budget panel serves a purpose
The Hernando Times editorial on May 17 stated that the "nickel-and-dime ideas floated at the Budget and Finance Committee's May meeting failed to address the significant task ahead." The Times perception is that this committee is somehow looking under the sofa, and through the junk drawers, to find loose change to balance the county's budget is way off base.
It can only be assumed that the editorial staff watched it on the government channel. Maybe the reporter was taking a bathroom break when all the big ticket items were discussed on how to reduce the $10 million budget deficit.
It is really amazing that the reporter for the Times failed to mention the $2.6 million in savings that would be gained if the employees were reduced to a 32-hour work week, which was discussed by the committee. Committee members also touched on the possible savings to the taxpayers if the number of county employees were reduced on the payroll. Another suggestion by the committee was to give all employees the option of the buy-out previously offered to those making over $50,000 a year. The committee also has asked to review money spent through the Human Resources Department on employee continuing-education-credit reimbursement for 2009 to see if this is an area that can be trimmed for the budget.
The Times stated that the Budget and Finance Committee "made little headway in offering recommendations to the county commissioners," which is blatantly false. The committee made numerous motions to pass these recommendations onto the Hernando County Commissioners for their May 25 meeting. In fact, another motion was made to suggest the Hernando County commissioners ask the League of Counties to form a committee of all 67 counties to combat the unfunded mandates from the Florida Legislature.
It appears that every time the Budget and Finance Committee strikes a nerve in this budget process, the press is quick to distort the truth. The Budget and Finance Committee has suggested over $3 million in budget reductions since the inaugural meeting in March. Frankly, this is a true sign that the commissioners made the right choice to form this standing committee. It's like sausagemaking; it's not pretty but the end product will be something every one will appreciate at the end of the day.
Anna Liisa Covell, Nobleton
How about taxing all vices equally?
Recently, the Legislature passed a $1 tax on tobacco products. I am a 73-year-old widow who has voted every election since I was 21. I take my privilege of that right very seriously.
I am also a smoker. I realize it is too late to effect a change in the bill, however, I feel I would be remiss if I did not make my views known to those who regulate our everyday life. The supposed purpose of this taxation was to protect the public for its own good. The last I knew, buying cigarettes is still legal and the danger of smoking mainly affects those who smoke.
You may use the excuse of second-hand smoke or added health care costs, but the truth is this is a bill that will make the least amount of voters dissatisfied. Most nonsmokers and ex-smokers delight in the fact that smokers have lost privilege after privilege regarding smoking, thus hit them again.
I would suggest looking at the taxation of every drink bought in a bar and every six-pack sold in a store and consider the health benefits to the public: The drinker leaving a bar with less alcohol in him or a teenager not being able to come up with the price of illegal booze.
The man who gets drunk cheaply and beats his wife and children will not be able to afford to consume as much. The taxpayer will gain from this resource and those who can afford it will be footing the imposed taxes. There are more deaths caused by the consumption of alcohol on the road and in the home than my cigarettes will ever cause.
I have watched this campaign play out and knew it would be popular as the Legislature and governor would be lauded for their concern for an unpopular vice. Let's make all the vices pay more — even if it is not popular — if they are truly concerned for their constituents' health. I'd like to see a true leader make this commitment.
Patricia Stowell, Homosassa
Critic's account doesn't ring true
This is in defense of the audience and ushers of Tarpon Spring Performing Arts Center. They received a scathing verbal abuse by critic Barbara Fredricksen in the May 9 edition. I served as lead usher with four well-trained ushers in this performance. Tarpon Springs is rightfully proud of the performing arts auditorium and the excellent schedule of programs.
Michael Raysses, operations manager, and Mark Jump, technician, right a tight ship and provide a relaxed, professional arena. The ushers are strictly volunteers with a desire to make a contribution to the performance of artistic endeavors of the community.
Granted, after the show started at 7 p.m., several attendees appeared with tickets in hand. The ushers are instructed to seat late arrivals in the rear of the theatre until intermission when they may be directed to their assigned seats. These patrons were startled to hear the performance was under way. At no fault of theirs nor the ushers, they produced a flier they had received stating the show time as 8 p.m. Since this was an almost sold out crowd, there were no back seats available. The ushers attempted to give these paying attendees the seats of their choice. They had missed much of the performance at no fault of their own, but were there for an entertaining, relaxed evening.
Fredricksen complained about "open-top beverages and doubled-wrapped food left half-consumed on the theater floor.'' Since there was no intermission, there was no sale of beverages nor food. Two signs at the lobby entrance remind patrons not to proceed with food into the theater. Our ushers are diligent in enforcing this. After the program, I checked the entire theater and found not a single beverage container nor food wrapper. Our audiences are neat and proud of our theater and its appearance.
Fredricksen complained of "an usher with an LED flashlight that could illuminate the entire inside of the tomb of Ramses II, which he flashed in our faces.'' Come off it. Aren't you being a bit dramatic for only being in the seat and not on stage? The ushers are provided a palm-sized pen light to check tickets.
Many of the audience became aware of the ushers' dilemma and were most kind and accommodating. None were as ugly as the critic.
If Fredricksen had come to me to express her feelings, I would have personally offered to refund the amount she paid for her ticket.
Norm Arbo, New Port Richey