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Hernando County needs to hold Corrections Corporation of America accountable

CCA should be held accountable

We taxpayers of Hernando County are getting tired of reading and hearing about what is wrong with the county jail and who is responsible for the present condition.

Corrections Corporation of America is the one mostly responsible for the damage in the jail. They have been the ones in charge of the county jail for the past 22 years.

Why isn't the Clerk of Circuit Court Karen Nicolai, county commissioners and administrator stopping them from removing anything from the county jail? Why did they blame and fire a county employee? One person is not entirely responsible for the condition of the county jail.

The solution is making the real culprit responsible for the condition of the jail, but all we have been hearing for the last few months is what equipment is the county's and what is CCA's. Put a lien on all of CCA's equipment because of what they allowed to happen to the jail.

We need the county officials to take action now. Make CCA responsible.

Gary Mercer, Spring Hill

Budget burden belongs to us all | July 18 letter

Cut costs before raising millage

The letter writer touts a slight millage raise. This is fine for someone who does not pay into the system but gleans benefits from it.

However, for the rest of us poor souls who are unemployed, are living on fixed incomes and paying taxes, or are on the verge of losing our homes, businesses and retirement accounts, a millage raise may very well be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Those of us who support public services by paying taxes can no longer afford to fund public employees' salaries and benefits programs as they stand. The state of Florida just increased governments' contribution to the state employee retirement system most likely because of losses from the financial crisis. Unfortunately, the time has come for government and its employees to pay for the fat years of double-digit budget increases, intense hiring and salary benefits for existing employees.

Last year, state employees took a mandatory pay cut, and even with that, jobs were lost. What pain will be caused by asking employees making more than, say, $50,000 to take a 7 percent pay cut? It will cost an employee making $60,000 a year about $160 every two weeks. While this is a difficult pill to swallow for that employee, at least he or she will continue to work and eventually get a guaranteed state retirement (much more secure than private sector workers).

On the other hand, someone who is making, even on the high end, $25,000 on retirement, paying a $900 mortgage, $2,000 for property insurance with sinkhole coverage, a $200 car payment plus insurance, $1,200 in ad valorem taxes and $100 a week for two people for food ends up with having around $283 a month for utilities, activities and other expenses. Raising taxes on individuals such as this and many others still residing here despite 13 percent unemployment is akin to taking blood from a stone.

It is time for Hernando County government to make hard decisions. When times were good, commissioners overspent, overhired and overpaid. Commissioners need to make the correct decisions to keep residents here and create private sector jobs. Contract out services such as maintenance, cleaning and security to save money.

The taxpayers of Hernando County cannot take more taxes. Government must learn to live within its means, and when it means cutting pay or benefits to save jobs, then that is the correct thing to do. Raising taxes will only reduce the tax base further as more people short sell homes, or just leave for greener pastures elsewhere.

Dave Parker, Spring Hill

For public good, support THE Bus

As a citizen of Hernando County and as a member of the board of directors of the Hernando chapter of AARP, I have become extremely concerned about THE Bus in Hernando County.

At last count, our chapter had 199 paying members. At our most recent board meeting, I proposed that we, as an organization, support THE Bus and that we put it back on its old schedule of hourly pickups. I proposed that we support Commissioner Dave Russell and commissioners who vote to continue operation of THE Bus, put it back on an hourly schedule and coordinate THE Bus through the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority so that eventually we can be hooked up with other county public transportation systems. The board agreed.

This is a serious issue to senior citizens in our county who have lost their ability to drive (not to mention the disabled and those unable to afford private transportation). These senior citizens still need to get to doctors' offices, go to hospitals, go shopping, go to the senior center and other places. While I don't personally use the bus, I can certainly see myself in that position down the road, and I pray that at that time we have a means of public transportation in our county.

THE Bus is funded by the federal government, the state government and our county government. We pay only 25 percent of the cost of operating THE Bus. Keeping THE Bus would cost the county $351,581 in 2011. Not bad considering that the bus averages 480 to 500 passengers a day who depend on it for a lifeline.

Please support the continuation of THE Bus. At some point, all of us will lose our ability to drive. Are we going to let this $351,581 annual cost get in the way of the public good? And if you were looking at moving to Florida, would you want to move to a county that has no public transportation?

I think it could make the difference between settling in a county with public transportation and settling in Hernando County. Please contact your commissioner and let them know that you support THE Bus.

John J. Philips Jr., Spring Hill

Why aren't there more electric cars?

The Complete Encyclopedia of Motorcars, edited by G.N. Georgano, reports that in 1899, two brothers made an electric car from nothing. It went 180 miles on one charge. They also made one that was in the Paris-Ostend race of 1899. They made family buses as well as commercial vehicles.

More than 100 years have passed and now we have a poor substitute for an electric car, going only 60 miles on one charge.

As global warming changes the world as we know it, the oil companies get richer and richer as the whole world suffers. Who is stopping the big car companies from making good electric cars?

Is there a conspiracy so that we must use fossil fuel?

Joseph A. Celentano, Weeki Wachee

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Hernando County needs to hold Corrections Corporation of America accountable 07/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 8:37pm]
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