Officials neglect to weigh savings
I was dumbfounded at the Clearwater City Council's response to council member John Doran's recent question asking if they were interested in soliciting a proposal from Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats to take over city policing. I would like to know the reasons the city would not look at consolidating with the Sheriff's Office at the expense of raising taxes, closing libraries, canceling programs, closing the Morningside Recreation Center and laying off employees.
Mayor Frank Hibbard cited an efficiency report by Matrix stating the Clearwater Police Department is a very well-managed department. I do not think this is in question. The question is, can we maintain the same service and reduce costs to the citizens of Clearwater?
After speaking with Sheriff Coats, he feels he could save the city $10 million or more a year. I feel strongly this needs to be investigated. Currently, the Sheriff's Office provides many services for the city, including forensics, air support and marine patrol.
I feel we should at least ask the sheriff for a proposal and feel it is owed to the city's residents. When you, as city officials, choose to raise our taxes and cut existing services, it is imperative to look at all avenues in cutting costs. It would not cost us anything to find out.
Furthermore, I find Mayor Hibbard's statement, "As long as I am here, I will not entertain getting rid of our Police Department," very disturbing. The City Council should ensure the council and citizens have all factual information regarding a particular department, then act on the citizens' wishes. Since the mayor refuses to look at the potential benefits that may be provided by the sheriff, we the citizens do not know if there is a benefit or not.
The city is spending thousands of dollars looking for a replacement for retiring police Chief Sid Klein without even considering a proposal from the Sheriff's Office. Again, I do not question the ability of the Clearwater Police Department. I think there should be a fair evaluation of the services the Sheriff's Office will commit to and how the merger will affect the officers themselves (for example, their retirement benefits).
I also would like to thank council member Doran for raising the question. I feel he is looking out for what is best for the citizens of Clearwater. He has my vote.
Rusty Hoaglin, Clearwater
How ironic that staffers are needy
I read with interest the articles you wrote about America's Second Harvest teaming with Foundation Village to dispense food to the needy. Indeed, it is a sign of the times to see the large number of needy families waiting in line.
The irony is that the full-time staff members at Foundation Village qualify for those donations as well. Since the debacle with Pinellas Core Management Services and the resulting termination of Foundation Village's contract with the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board, this neighborhood family center has been operating on a shoestring budget — and I might add that the shoestring is frayed and unraveling.
How sad that the people who work there qualify for the services they offer. I respect their dedication and commitment to the community.
M. Eileen Sheahan, Dunedin
Band contests appeal to many
Why is there such a lack of space (as in zero) given to inform your readers in advance about high school marching band competitions? It's nice that you give it some coverage after the fact, but I would like to think my hometown paper has enough appreciation for the efforts and talents of these hard-working high school students to give them a little advance hype.
I understand there is a county competition coming up at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at Clearwater High School. I attended the county competition last year and it was a great day of music and fun. I don't think I'm the only resident who would like to be informed in advance about this event so I could be there to enjoy it.
Sheryl Evans, Clearwater
Re: County votes for mandatory garbage collection | story, Oct. 25
County, keep out of my garbage
Please, please write, e-mail or telephone the Pinellas County commissioners and tell them to leave the issue of garbage collection in the unincorporated area alone. They want to take away our freedom to handle our garbage in any way we choose, from any hauler, at any cost we want. I have lived in the unincorporated area of Pinellas County for 60 years and never needed the county government involved in my garbage.
If you and I don't stand up for our freedom, we will lose it.
Dorothy Book, Largo
Re: Oldsmar pays for bus routes | story, Oct. 13
Ask city workers for thrifty ideas
For what Oldsmar is paying the Pinellas County School Board, $36,000 a year, the city could have bought one of the surplus buses at public auction, used it for the school year and still be able to use the bus for other city activities when school is not in session. This would have been a better use of city money and would not just benefit the School Board.
In these times, most municipalities should have a cost-saving think tank of present employees in an attempt to save big bucks like this.
Richard F. Stafford, Palm Harbor