Let trash haulers bid on franchises
On June 22, Pasco commissioners will vote on a business plan for 2010-11. They will consider a list of changes to county operations that are expected to make the county run more smoothly. One item struck from this list was restructuring the county's trash collection system into a franchise system. The winning bidder would get the exclusive right to provide service in a given area each year. A suggested part of the franchise contract is for the haulers to provide recycling bins to each household — something that the county is unable to do on its own. Pasco has proof that bins will increase recycling: the Meadow Point 2006 study and the experience of Dade City's 9-month-old recycling bin program.
The franchising system would instill order to our chaotic "choose your own" system that leaves a homeowner to find his own hauler. Our current system creates neighborhoods with as many as five haulers rumbling down their streets.
More than two years ago, the County Commission scuttled a franchising plan because of lobbying from haulers who want to see the current system maintained. When the entire county has so much to gain by a successful, robust recycling program, it seems hard to believe that nine haulers can hold 430,000 people of Pasco County hostage. Franchising can be legally designed to allow all haulers an opportunity to win an area. Of course, there's is no guarantee, but if they bid well, every hauler, large and small, has an equal opportunity to win an area.
The staff has the expertise to put together plans for a franchising proposal. Trust them. Ask the questions. The initiative the commission left on the table —seeking firms interested in building and operating a new Material Recovery Facility (MRF) — cannot really go anywhere without a firm commitment to improving our recycling. Without a real commitment toward improving recycling by the county, it will be very difficult to find anyone to build a MRF.
Please keep the franchising proposal as part of the county business plan for 2010. The commission has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Pat Carver, chairman of Environmental Concerns, Dade City Garden Club, Dade City
Ducking for political cover is not leadership | June 13 C.T. Bowen column
Math is complex for taxing district
The public should be angry about a lack of knowledge of basic county ad valorem taxation. However, the lack of knowledge appears to go beyond our elected officials.
The new taxing district should not raise taxes for those in unincorporated areas. Supposedly the current "municipal services fund" in our county budget compensates for that inequity already. (It really doesn't, but the county takes that accounting position.) The alleged purpose as stated in the county budget is "To account for various municipal services ... that are provided in the unincorporated areas of the county"
Both the Florida Constitution and state statute (1 (h) Article VIII and F.S. 125.01-7) disallow double taxation against municipal residents for services municipalities provide. Presuming that the contributions by county residents (and not municipal residents as is currently the case) would be discontinued proportionally under any new taxing district and reflected in contributions to the Municipal Services Fund, county residents should not pay more overall.
However, the county's funding of the Municipal Services Fund does not adequately offset the improper double taxation of municipal residents. Its formula is a dark secret and why the four municipalities that provide police services do not take the county to task on such issue is another story.
In theory, a proper reduction in the current Municipal Services Fund should offset the increase to the remaining county residents, who solely fund the Municipal Services Fund, under the new taxing district as presented. A proper tax cut for city residents should already be there and given by the Municipal Tax Fund.
Complicated, yes. Unfair to local governments, yes. And angry property owners for a taxation process which only an accountant could appreciate, double yes.
Leaving all the above headaches aside, the new taxing district would double the cap of 10 mills to 20, and that's another headache and detailed explanation, but why discuss that and make taxpayers more angry than they already are and have a right to be?
James Mathieu, Port Richey
Struggle over codes ends well
I want to thank your paper for the coverage of my plight with the Pasco County Code Enforcement Department.
Through the efforts of Bill Stevens' understanding and an enlightening article of facts, county chief zoning official Debra Zampetti reviewed the laws and made an adjustment that will impact so many small business like mine. Also my thanks to code enforcement officers for their understanding and kindness.
The support I received from the staff at Home Depot and the overwhelming support from the public has been a blessing and a real heartwarming experience for me .
Patricia Quentanella, Port Richey
Sportsplex will be worth the trouble
I am of a critical nature, like C.T. Bowen of the Times. But upon reflection, I think the difference between criticism for its own sake and constructive criticism which seeks improvement is that along with pointing out commissioners' faults you also have the gift of demonstrating to them reasons for acting outside of their own political interests.
I would advise Commissioner Michael Cox and his fellow commissioners to do what is right for the county, its poor, its youth and its jobless by creating jobs through tourism, sports fields for families whose children find both fitness and direction through exercise and good sportsmanship.
The Sportsplex has become so complex because of the politics. Dealing with it has no doubt created headaches for the commissioners, even ulcers perhaps. But it will all be worth it when they can say, "We finally have physical proof we have done something for the good of Pasco County."
Kathy Lambert, Dade City
Pasco needs ban to clear corners
Congratulations to the city of St. Petersburg for having the courage to ban all street vendors from their city streets. Even though the St. Petersburg Times fought back in federal court with a lawsuit to protect its street vendors and according to it, free speech, the U.S. district judge held his ground and said no.
Pasco County commissioners should have the courage to do the same, but they remain fearful of litigation. Our street corners are littered with aggressive panhandlers, charity organizations and the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune. It is not only disgusting to see them on virtually every main intersection, it is a safety issue. I strongly encourage everyone to help the needy and give to their favorite charities as my family does.
Shame on you St. Petersburg Times for your lawsuit. Our constitutional right of free speech is certainly not in danger by clearing your vendors off our intersections.
And finally, Pasco County Commissioners should fearlessly step up to the plate and clear our street corners of all solicitors. I am not alone in saying the people of Pasco County are tired of this.
Dale Sieber, Hudson
Re: Keep kids safe
How did we ever survive summer?
The June 14 metro article by Letitia Stein makes me afraid for all the mothers out there who have to face every possible catastrophe that might occur to their children the first week that school is out for the summer.
I'm surprised mine grew up safe since we did not have front page information to scare the heck out of us or make us feel even more insecure about not preparing for every or any childhood accident.
No wonder we never see children playing outside anymore without being in a controlled situation. How did we all survive?
Marleen Rogers, Trinity
Crime is largely ignored for traffic | June 11 letter
Crime should be sheriff's focus
The letter writer brings up a very good point. Sheriff Bob White is right to hire more, but do the right thing.
Sheriff, you have our support, but put our money to good use. Stop drugs, stop crime, stop prostitution. Protect our seniors.
Franklin D. Stockmeister, Zephyrhills