Commission is bowing to donors
The Pasco County Commission is again responding to its big donors as we start the run to the next election cycle. At a time when the county is wallowing in a foreclosure crisis, homes are selling for a fraction of their 2007 value, and there are thousands of developed lots awaiting buyers, the commission is set to approve major reductions in the impact fees to jump-start a segment of the economy that is years away, at least in Florida, of returning to a growth sector.
There are numerous large developments in the west and central parts of the county that have the infrastructure but are awaiting eager buyers to come. It seems the commission and the state Legislature are falling into the trap of the developer, builder, Realtor, mortgage company and banker elements that were responsible for the housing disaster that we face today. They seem to have never heard of or choose to ignore a very famous quotation on the National Archives: "Past is prologue.'' How many times must Florida go through the bust-and-boom cycle of relying on the housing market to carry the economy?
This group of interrelated entrepreneurs pushed new homes at buyers who could never afford to carry the amount of debt they assumed. The solution of the commission and Legislature is to make easier for the building industry to reduce their costs in an effort to build houses to start another boom cycle. Infrastructure the developers should shoulder to support their new housing developments are being instead pushed aside (the Legislature did this) and the costs of road improvements, schools, police and fire requirements are now planned to be reduced by the commission. In the end, someone will have to pay for them, and the commission will find a way to charge every homeowner in the county a fee (they hate the word tax — it might cost them votes) for these services.
We, who have purchased new homes, have already paid impact fees for our share of these services and now to support their campaign donors, the commission plans to vote to reduce these fees on future buyers just to appease their big-cash friends. If you believe the reductions proposed will only be in place for two years, keep tuned in.
Dale Gottschalk, Hudson
Stand up against cut in builder fees
I am so very sick and tired of our kids and teachers getting the shaft by everyone. Tell me, since when are we responsible for the builders saving money? Isn't it their responsibility to manage their money and businesses properly?
Who do they think they are asking for a break? If they want to build in our already overpopulated county, then they should have to pay all the fees required. Our kids and teachers are already suffering enough with budget cuts.
It's time we stand up for our community and for what is right. And what the commissioners are trying to do, isn't right. I will be at the April 19 meeting to voice my opinion. If you can't be there because you work, please e-mail the commissioners and tell them how you feel. Don't let them get away with this. Our kids and teachers need our support now more than ever.
Tracy Phillips, New Port Richey
Schools give more than an eduction
School is the only stable and safe environment available to many children during these hard economic times. All school workers, including teachers, secretaries, cafeteria workers, school nurses, bus drivers, principals and social workers, provide vital support and instruction to all children. I have seen many workers, in all job areas, take money from their own pockets to buy clothing, shoes and food for needy kids.
A father recently entered our school office and told the staff that he and his wife could no longer care for their child. The parent asked school staff to call authorities to take the young child away. The child, Emma (not her real name), is only 6 years old. Her long brown curly hair, engaging personality and sweet smile could melt the heart of even the most hardened cynic. Words cannot even begin to describe the devastated look on this poor child's face when she heard the news.
The entire school staff rallied to support and take care of this abandoned little girl. Staff members offered Emma not only high-quality teaching but also counseling, consolation and loving attention during this terrible time in her life. I do not know what would have happened to Emma if a full staff of dedicated workers had not been there to console her. Many of us cried that day as Emma walked out the door with the new doll and toys staff members gave her. She is now living in another state with supportive foster parents.
People do not work at schools for the money, the pension or the benefits. We are there because we love children. Taking away vital staff while kids are struggling is tragic. If anything, we need more staff to educate and care for children during these rough economic times. Tests and scientific interventions are important, but creating a stable supportive learning environment is just as vital to student achievement. It is the human element in education that makes the difference. Cutting education funds at this time is not in the best interests of children.
Nancy Catania, Wesley Chapel
Services for tax dollars a bargain
It is tax time. I have the lowest property taxes in many years due to the devaluation of my house and property. When I see what I get for my taxes, it is just so much more than anyone could ever imagine.
Back in the 1970s, I had city police retrieve an elderly grandparent and return him home at least four times. I have had sewer and water crews check the sewer line to be sure it wasn't a blockage in the main line. I have also enjoyed the county services of buses and libraries.
And now I see how hard-working the public works crews are for the city of Dade City. I am one lucky taxpayer. God bless all of them for helping after the storm.
Kathy Lambert, Dade City
Fight pollution, fertilizer bills | April 6 letter
Who will mind our waterways?
So what's going on here? Same old problem. A special interest, in this case fertilizer companies, doesn't want local governments messing around with what product they can sell, and how much and when it can be applied, so they go to their legislative supporters, all Republicans, and have them introduce SB 606 and HB 457 that repeal existing local government control and create a one-size-fits-all law. It allows only the Legislature and fertilizer companies to control what goes into our lakes, rivers and streams that make up our drinking water and support the state's ecosystems. Yes, alarm bells should be going off all over the state, for more than one reason.
But are Republicans going to support 24 local municipalities that currently control what locally goes into our water, or will they give that control exclusively to our Republican-dominated Legislature and fertilizer companies? Our jobs governor, Rick Scott, must be salivating at the idea of taking out 26 pesky local governments and replacing them with a big fertilizer company that is bound to create more jobs than 26 local governments.
The writer neglected to say we also need to contact our own local governments to make sure they oppose this scheme. Our own county commissioners, all Republican, have in the past been delighted to shift local control to the state because it gets the monkey off their back.
Art Hayhoe, Wesley Chapel
Re: Sadly, Kally K's tried to hide truth
Kally K's handled health issue poorly
Ever since we were first taken to Kally K's one year ago, we loved eating there, too. I'm saddened also along with a recent letter writer. She is correct in saying this could happen to anyone.
However, the manager/owner said, three days after my wife and I were horribly sick for two days, she didn't receive many complaints and that the Health Department stopped by on a routine visit but left without finding anything. I'm sure she told that story to all who called when the rumors started flying. It wasn't long until the truth came out and then I became angry.
Someone could very easily have died from this virus. I am angry at the manager for being deceptive right up to the very end, when she could have done better damage control by being honest and let the facts come out. However, the Health Department did find violations of not washing hands and improper storage.
I'm sorry for what happened to Kally K's, but the management has lost our trust for how this was handled. We're taking our chances at a different restaurant now.
Neil Walsh, Spring Hill