Back away from dredging project
Over two years our county administrator and county commissioners have been utilizing reserve funds to balance our budget by cutting operating costs and transferring money from reserve accounts to pay bills. Transferring reserves are simply accounting transactions to cover expenses in excess of revenues.
Anyone who has overdraft checking linked to their savings account can understand this. When you write a check in excess of your checking balance an automatic transfer from your savings covers the overdraft. This kind of financial management is a temporary fix when revenues are declining and an assumption that revenues will increase in the future to satisfy the current imbalances.
On Feb. 1, the County Commission voted 4-1 in agreement with Administrator David Hamilton to become the general contractor for the Hernando Beach dredging project under the supervision of Transportation Services supervisor Susan Goebel. We have spent $4.92 million on the project of which the state has reimbursed us $3.19 million of the promised $6 million, leaving a balance of $2.81 million due from the state.
No one knows the cost of the project yet I will assume the project cost will be $12 million and $4.27 million will come from county taxpayer dollars. The only other option is to use our overdraft protection. Those transportation reserves could be used to save The Bus and not reduce services for riders who need public transportation rather than finance the dredging, which serves the few.
This dredge project was ill-conceived and has dragged on for over six years with no county oversight.
Commissioner David Russell indicated he was a general contractor for 28 years when referring to the comment someone should provide strong oversight. Where has he been the last six years? Commissioner Russell committed us to this project when he was a state representative when he lobbied for state matching funds.
Costs have been underestimated, a final price is still unknown and those who were paid to guide the county have been exonerated from their mismanagement because the county assumed the lead role. Commissioner Russell is now off the hook compliments of our county administrator and the new commissioners are now responsible for this project.
Vito J. Delgorio Sr., Spring Hill
Dredging idea has Andy Hardy vibe
The new idea for dredging in Hernando reminds me of the old Andy Hardy movies:
Golly. Aunt Polly has uniforms in her barn and shovels and gosh everything we need. And nobody plays banjo like Uncle Joe. And we can save money!
Let's get started.
John Albert, Spring Hill
Fire district must be dissolved now
At the Feb. 2 Spring Hill Fire District meeting, the commissioners voted 5-0 to move ahead with extending the interlocal agreement with the county to collect ad valorem property taxes past Sept. 30. Unfortunately, the voters, in the Aug. 24, 2010, election, clearly voted to deny the district from collecting those taxes. The current agreement to collect taxes was the result of a judicial ruling allowing the independent district to function until such time as the referendum on taxation went before the voters. The taxing question went before the voters, and they have spoken with a resounding "no.''
There now exists a district without a funding mechanism and it is time that the Legislature put a referendum before the people to dissolve the independent district, consolidate the services with the county and be done with the $14.4 million expense of duplicating fire services.
The fire union and their friends will trot out the usual tired scare tactics that without an independent district the residents will not get fire and emergency services and that the county will appropriate the equipment that the citizens of Spring Hill purchased. If there was a fire or a medical emergency at my home I would not be worried about the name on the respondents' truck or uniform but that there was a responder. Moreover, up until the independent district vote in 2008 this was a county entity so funding of the equipment is moot. Any equipment purchased after 2008 can be appropriately accounted for and a credit can be given to the Spring Hill residents on their tax bill if the equipment is moved.
It is time to stop ignoring the voting public.
Anne Kraus-Keenan, Spring Hill
Fire commission is ruining district
Talk about a circus! In just three short months the Board of Fire Commissioners has managed to increase the cost of the monthly meetings from approximately $450 to $1,278, a cost to the taxpayers of over $15,000 annually. That's some savings!
They also managed to disband the fire police by not allowing them to respond to emergencies until they reorganized the corps. All existing members had to reapply and have a criminal background check before being allowed to respond to emergencies. I'm sure this wasn't a free. The background checks had to cost something.
Another brilliant decision made by the board is eliminating persons who volunteer their time and effort to help the department. For example, there was an individual who came into headquarters for about four to six hours a week. He stuffed envelopes, did some minor clerical work, mailed the envelopes and went home. He was then told he was no longer needed.
Apparatus maintenance will no longer be available for callout after normal business hours. If an apparatus breaks down at 6 p.m. on a Friday, it has to remain out of service for more than 63 hours before it could be repaired on the following Monday morning.
The fire trucks that we have in service are expensive pieces of equipment; and to have an apparatus lying idle for any length of time is a safety issue. We, as residents of the district, should definitely be concerned.
Apparently, there was very little, or for that matter any, forethought whatsoever in making this decision. It seems that those of us who are dedicated to the fire service and have the safety concerns of the residents of Spring Hill and its firefighters are the ones who are being discriminated against.
The chief of the department should be calling the shots and controlling the daily day-to-day operations of the fire service, not the chairperson of the fire commission.
John Pasquale, Fire commissioner, Spring Hill Fire Rescue District
County officials not facing reality
People, get out of your homes and see what happened to our once beautiful Spring Hill.
We have outrageous salaries received by county officials and some looking for $15,000 more. Who authorized these ridiculous prices at the time when we have hungry families and foreclosures? There is no work available. The county can't maintain the waterfall. Homes turning into a ghettos with garbage and falling wooden fences cluttering properties.
Let's face reality, Hernando County is broke or on its way. Our officials still want to fill their pockets. Where's the money coming from?
Gus Scumaci, Spring Hill