Making better budget choices
Is County Administrator David Hamilton making the right budget cuts? Everyone knows that money is tight and we all need to find ways to tighten our belts, but what if those budget cuts cause devastating consequences in the community we live in?
I must applaud the sheriff for sticking to his guns to protect our county. Cutting staff from the Sheriff's Office would have long-term effects from which we may never recover — plain and simple, more crime. I do not believe that is what most residents want.
The same applies to Code Enforcement and Animal Services. With less enforcement, our communities will start to show signs of deterioration. Left unchecked, this grows like a fungus. Code Enforcement in our community does make a difference. Just ask one of the thousands of citizens who call that office seeking assistance. Property values are down now and with less enforcement of simple rules, they will continue to spiral downward.
Animal Services is another area that should not be cut. In these economic times, more citizens are bringing in their animals because they cannot afford to keep them. Catching wild animals should not be sacrificed because of budget cuts. With fewer officers on the road picking up dogs running loose, there is a greater chance of our kids being chased by a dog, or worse, bitten. No parent wants that to happen to their child.
Ordinances are put into place for a reason and many of those ordinances were enacted because our citizens wanted to protect their community. Doing away with these rules and regulations will cause our county to move backward.
In years to come, we will have to start all over again. Our county may never recover, and if it does it will take years. I am sure Mr. Hamilton will not be here to help clean up the mess.
Mr. Hamilton has not put much thought into this budget — just cut to meet the bottom line and it's we, the citizens, who will suffer in the long run. Wake up, commissioners, and do the right thing. Is Mr. Hamilton making the right cuts? I don't think so. Think about this county's future. Think long term!
Frank McDowell III, Spring Hill
Don't cut the extension office
I ran across a group of master gardeners in Lowe's who were helping many by giving solutions — some verbal, some printed — all free. Questioning, I learned of the proposed budget cuts involving the extension office.
I am aware Hernando County's budget needs to be cut over $10 million. I want to make a case for priorities.
The extension office offers every newcomer to Hernando County and established residents solutions for everything from turf problems to dying plants to insect identification. I have never before encountered such a group of sincerely helpful people. They don't offer old wives' tales; rather, it's information supported by research by the University of Florida. They help our environment at a time we need that help.
By cutting two additional positions, the extension will have gone from 12 staff members in 2008 to five in 2011, a roughly 60 percent cut. The administrative assistant position is a hands-on, key person in services for the public, the 4-H Club, and the master gardeners, in addition to regular duties. She earns $29,000. Calculating unemployment, the county will save only a little over $10,000. This will hurt the office greatly.
Please don't make Hernando's unemployment even higher, adding to the downward spiral of our tax base by losing even more taxpayers. Consider a four-day workweek of nine-hour days. Let's stop using taxpayer money to supplement music concerts and special events.
With so many challenges facing Hernando County's beautiful environment, we need a strong and vital extension office.
Elizabeth Seman, Brooksville
Code team: Dump some laws July 25 article
New strategy for code violations
I was sickened when I read the article on code enforcement. To believe that some of our county commissioners and Jean Rags, who is in charge of this division, are really looking out for residents' welfare and safety is unbelievable. Why should we cut laws if there are not enough funds in the budget?
Ask residents to volunteer; that would beef up the staff to properly do the job. Cut the time a resident has to comply, raise fines, don't put liens on homes for unpaid fines and penalties, and put assessments on their yearly property taxes. If fines and penalties are not paid by tax time, the county should take over the property, then sell it at auction time and put the money back into the budget.
Our property values have suffered enough over property that owners have let go and code enforcement has done nothing about. If any laws need to be changed, it would be laws to give code enforcement the authority to do the job properly and not to be stopped by a fence or whatever prevents employees from doing their jobs right.
Stop whining about budget shortages and put your mind to seeking ways you can improve code enforcement for the residents. There are alternatives other than cutting the little protection we have now.
I will volunteer my time to help this division anyway I can, and if it means replacing some of the staff, then just put their yearly wages back into the budget. Hernando County could be a nice, safe, clean place where new residents would love to buy homes. That would increase the taxes brought into the county.
Dan Duibley, Spring Hill
Why not let the Civil War fade?
Brooksville's shameful old story goes on. Not only does the Civil War soldier still stand on the courthouse lawn, but now there is a big mural in downtown of a civil war battle. There's also the ongoing annual celebration of the Civil War: the Civil War re-enactment.
So, why did we blast all the swastikas off the buildings in Germany? Why are there not statues of Nazi soldiers in every county seat in Germany?
While we lived in Germany, off and on from 1960-1978, we did not see a single celebration of the Nazi cause. We understood that in post-war Germany, anti-Semitism was not tolerated and children were taught about the Holocaust in public schools.
Why are we still celebrating the Confederate "cause?"
Why is the story of Rosewood still so unpopular? Rosewood was a small town in Levy County that was destroyed in the 1920s by a white mob. Maybe a re-enactment of that fearful night should be done along with the popular annual Civil War re-enactment. It could be a full costume event, too, with burning buildings and frightened, screaming victims and their victorious attackers who left Rosewood in cinders and many people dead. Thank you, Dan DeWitt for your July 25th column.
Doris Taylor, Brooksville
Hiring unemployed helps economy | July 25 guest column
Republicans are unemployed, too
The guest columnist demonstrated a misconception of the view the Republicans represent related to unemployment. There are not just Democratic individuals unemployed. There are Republicans as well as independents who are unemployed. Her statement "The Republicans hate us so much" is untrue and unfounded.
Our representatives are doing what we need them to do protect us from ourselves. We can't spend what we don't have. If we want to continue the unemployment payments, we can't be spending in other areas.
The only way out of this economic crisis is to develop jobs. The individuals who are unemployed also have to look at training opportunities for the jobs that will be developed or expanded in the future economic work force.
Regina Mirabella, Hudson
Who steals an American flag?
In the early-morning darkness of Friday, someone stole my U.S. flag and my Marine Corps flag from the flagpole in my yard.
Jack Yaskulski, Spring Hill