Cut paychecks, don't raise taxes
I have read with great interest and concern Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne's intent to seek an increase in the property tax millage rate for funding municipal government.
As founder of a fairness in property tax group, Clearwater Beach Property Tax Relief Fund, our group finds this approach totally unacceptable. We see this move as a slap in the face to all we are attempting to accomplish, and to not consider alternatives indicates a lack of sensitivity and leadership from the administration.
We realize with diminishing property tax revenues, funding for government is dramatically affected, but there are other measures more palatable to the community.
Since a significant part of the population of Clearwater is retirees who have felt the negative impact of falling property values, losses in value of 401Ks, IRAs and money market products, not to mention soaring gasoline prices, there is not much support or sympathy for a tax increase.
Before any tax increases are implemented, we feel all municipal employees should take salary cuts before any services are even considered for reduction or elimination. Cutbacks are a way of life in the private sector, e.g., the airline industry. Municipal employees, in our opinion, do a fine job, and this proposed cut has nothing to do with good or bad performance. It is their time to share in the misery with all other sectors of our society. They are not sacred cows.
We are sure these cuts can significantly make up budget short-falls without causing job or service losses.
Bill Smith, Clearwater
Public agencies need e-billing
With all the talk today about cuts for governments within Pinellas County, why is it they cannot do e-billing?
I receive electronic billing for all my normal bills, with the exception of Safety Harbor for water and Clearwater gas. I pay electronically for additional savings.
The majority of households today have e-mail and it would save money for postage and paper. If businesses can do it, why not local governments?
I have talked to these folks and they want me to give them access to my checking account to deduct the amount. Sorry, no!
Get more professional and up to date!
Llewellyn Denny, Safety Harbor
Quality of care requires teamwork | guest column, Lawrence G. Flannagan Jr., May 28
Fight for parent's right to good care
As I read this well-written, though in my opinion oversimplified, guest column, I reflected back upon the last four months of my mother's life. I also thought of those famous words spoken by Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz: "There's no place like home."
During those four months, my mother was in three facilities. The first was for short-term care, while I made my difficult decision to place her in a nursing home.
The second, which was for long-term care, is known to many as "the best kept secret in Pinellas County." My mother was there for only 16 days before she was wheeled out on a stretcher. When I met her at the emergency room, I was astounded that anyone could still be alive with a blood pressure reading of 64/41. Even though my mother pulled through the crisis, the delay in medical treatment exacerbated her already poor condition.
As a souvenir, I kept a copy of the facility's menu. She had congestive heart failure, so the highly seasoned, sodium-saturated meals were not conducive to her strict diet. And even though the staff worked with me in supplementing her meals with more healthy choices from the kitchen, mistakes were often made.
The third and final facility was also long term. While it wasn't perfect, it was the best by far. Even though I was there every day, I'd be called (at all hours) regarding various incidents, which sometimes included injuries and some the fault of the team members. It was a genuine mess.
As my mother's advocate and health care surrogate, I fought for the best possible care to be provided. I attended all care planning conferences as well. And truth be told, at times I was downright demanding and not well-received by some. However, I was told by others that they would do the same for their mothers and respected me for my tenacity.
As to whether I'd rather take poison than be admitted to a nursing home, count me as undecided.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater