Hard-hit bank looks ahead to recovery | Dan DeWitt column, June 6
FDIC ensures deposits are safe
Not unlike any other bank in the country, and in particular, the state of Florida, banks have fallen on hard, unprecedented times. Much of columnist Dan DeWitt's information in his June 6 column was correct, specifically the fact that Cortez Community Bank has a strong capital position. Investors consider the bank to be adequately capitalized and consider Cortez Community Bank to be well managed, and with regulatory approval will infuse $15 million in capital which will escalate the recovery process.
However, the information Mr. DeWitt provided as to the FDIC insurance coverage is detrimental to Cortez Community Bank and incorrect and almost created a panic at Cortez Community Bank.
Mr. DeWitt called the FDIC for information and, in his defense, he printed what they told him. His incorrect interpretation was "pull the bank's insurance" to mean, as the column implied, that if a bank fails, the FDIC pulls the insurance leaving customers uninsured.
The trigger phrase "pull its insurance" is the FDIC's term meaning when it pulls the insurance the bank cannot operate and will be closed down. The bank is then taken over by the FDIC in receivership or sold to another financial institution, making the transaction transparent to the customer and never without FDIC insurance protection. Many readers-customers interpreted the term ''pull the insurance'' to mean if the bank were to fail they would lose their money. If that were the case, there would be no need for FDIC insurance. But unfortunately, many customers did panic and as a result the bank did lose some deposits.
As president and CEO of Cortez Community Bank, I want to assure our current and potential new customers your money is safe with us and all other FDIC-insured banks regardless of their current rating status. However, everyone should be aware of some restrictions and maximum insurance coverage and be aware of ways to insure up to $3 million if opened in proper ownership categories.
The standard insurance amount of $250,000 per depositor is in effect through Dec. 31, 2013. On Jan. 1, 2014, the standard insurance amount will return to $100,000 per depositor for all account categories except IRAs and other certain retirement accounts which will remain at $250,000 per depositor.
The FDIC's temporary Transaction Account Guarantee Program provides depositors with unlimited coverage for noninterest-bearing transaction accounts at participating FDIC-insured institutions of which Cortez Community Bank participates.
Your money is safe with us. Should you have any further concerns or questions about Cortez Community Bank, please call any of our friendly staff members or me. For additional information, go to the FDIC estimator at www.fdic.gov/edie, which will calculate the various categories and how to be certain your money is always insured.
Donald R. Page, president and CEO, Cortez Community Bank,
New teachers left to sink or swim
Think about the following employee scenario: You, as an employee, report to a new job. You are beginning about two months after the rest of the employees in your department began. Excited about the possibilities of your new job, you are an enthusiastic, cheerful individual. Your immediate supervisor hands you the keys to your area and says good luck.
Walking into your subdepartment you discover the following: There is a thick folder of state regulations you must follow for each of the 13 yearlong projects assigned to you; six to 19 unruly employees who report to work haphazardly; no materials to work with; no library for your employees' use; and a list of reports you must create and maintain on each employee in each project they are assigned.
Confused on the lack of useful information, you ask for some guidance from your assigned mentor. The mentor cheerfully explains, "Everyone starts out the same way. It is a sink-or-swim business," and walks out the door. Two days later you are bombarded with a series of seminars, classes and exams you must complete — many within a few weeks. Failing to do so means the loss of your position.
Oh, by the way, you can be terminated with no reason for 90 days. Even if you perform well, for the next three years you can be laid off just because you have less than three years' experience. Until you have worked seven years you must be rehired every single year. Also you are a salaried employee meaning you are paid for about eight hours a day, but in order to complete your paperwork and training your typical day is 10 hours long. The training you are required to have you must pay for out of your own pocket, as well as the exams you must take and the materials you work with.
Last, but not least, you're paid 20 to 50 percent less in this job than you would be paid in a comparable position in another company.
Can't wait to work for such an outstanding company? Then rush right on over to the Hernando County School Board and apply to become a teacher in this fair county. That's right — a teacher. Any wonder why the best and the brightest walk away from teaching?
After three years, I'm not bitter. I'm going to another state instead.
Nicole Angell Spring Hill
Sheriff shirking budget duties
Once again Sheriff Richard Nugent is holding the rest of the county services hostage by minimally reducing his budget. Last year, the sheriff was unable to find any reductions in his $32 million budget. Miraculously, after other departments and programs were slashed to accommodate his intransigence, he found $2 million to return to the county. Although the $2 million was a welcome contribution to the budget, it was too late to save other county programs.
This is a clear indicator that if he succeeds in his congressional aspirations, we will continue to see unrestrained spending in Washington.
Sheriff Nugent now has control of 41 percent of the Hernando County general fund budget, proposed at $103.2 million for fiscal year 2011, including jail operations.
This year, after seeing property values plummet even further, Sheriff Nugent was able to find $1 million, or a mere 3 percent, to cut in the sheriff's budget. If he was able to return $2 million last year, he should be able to start the 2011 fiscal year at $30 million (or a 6 percent reduction) if not lower. He was also able to reduce jail spending by $300,000, another reduction of 3 percent. All other state constitutional officers are reducing their budgets 4 to 9 percent on a much smaller budgetary base. The sheriff should be able to reduce his budget further.
The same tired arguments are used annually to justify why his budget cannot be touched further: Non-filled positions, gas and insurance. The majority of the sheriff's budget is salaries and benefits — 17 percent of the personnel in the Sheriff's Office earn over $60,000 a year, and there are the associated benefits and retirement plan costs to cover. These salaries are for a department responsible for approximately 165,000.
The national average for police officer salaries ranges from $35,198 to $61,652. And the New York City Police Department, which is responsible for protecting a population of 8 million people, has salaries that range from $50,868 to $79,198.
Gas prices are decreasing and can be cut even further if the policy to have patrol cars used by officers for commuting purposes is eliminated (with some limited exceptions).
Law and order is important and the sheriff's officers do their job well since we have seen a 14.7 percent dip in crime in Hernando County in the last reporting period. But we are all cutting costs, and the sheriff needs to be fiscally responsible to all citizens in the county as well as his departmental constituency.
Without further reducing the sheriff's budget, there will be dramatic cuts in parks, library and other services that benefit all citizens of Hernando County. If the sheriff truly looks at his budget in an unbiased manner, he will be able to come up with savings.
Anne Kraus-Keenan, Spring Hill
Transfer raises many questions
I was disappointed upon reading the article concerning former Westside Elementary principal Dominick Ferello's transfer to Eastside Elementary. I believe Eastside and for that matter any school in Hernando County deserves to be more than a parking lot for people who are having problems doing their jobs.
Is this fair to the teachers and students at the school? What does parking mean exactly? Is this temporary, permanent, is this a figurehead position? I understand we have a new school superintendent who needs to get the feel of our county, but there is a lot to be said about learning from what has already transpired. This is not a man who has worked here many years with few complaints; but a man who has worked here a few years and has many complaints.
D. Hutchins, Spring Hill