Raise millage rate and save services
We understand you have a tough job and appreciate your efforts. We also applaud the efforts of community organizations and residents who step forward and offer support and partnership to help with the costs of maintaining our county parks. We applaud ongoing efforts for efficiency and cutting waste.
We believe that the time has come to increase the millage rate enough to ease the current budget crunch and to maintain quality of life services that make Hernando County a desirable place to live and work. We want to see our parks stay open. In addition, we want to see the continuation of the Environmentally Sensitive Lands acquisition program to protect our water and natural resources, to bring in tourism and to protect the natural assets this county offers. We would support a special assessment for mosquito control rather than diverting funds from other purposes that have been approved by the voters. We are not only willing to see our property taxes stay level (or increase slightly) through an increase in millage, we would also support modest annual fees as well as daily annual fees for our parks and recreation areas. As we attend community meetings and speak with our neighbors, we meet more and more people who agree that the time has come for a modest increase in taxes and fees to support Hernando County.
We would like to see investment in historical and cultural treasures, such as Chinsegut Hill and the Cannery, that also offer opportunities for history-based tourism and promotion of our agricultural roots. We also believe that water quality and water supply will be crucial issues in the coming decades, and we can't afford not to participate in regional water planning. We believe that the constitutional officers fulfill needed functions to support quality of life and professionalism in government. We do not support the abolition of the constitutional officers, although additional efficiencies might be discovered in administration functions such as purchasing.
Although we are retired (except for a small part-time business), and primarily depend on fixed income, we know that quality government services are not free, and we expect to pay our share. In addition, we believe that continuing to erode the amenities and services that drew us here almost 20 years ago works against the goal of bringing new businesses and homeowners to get our economic engine going again.
Please vote now to increase the millage rate to the extent allowable — with the understanding that if other sources of support for needed services are identified, you can make downward adjustments in the actual property taxes in the future.
Larry and Judith Simpson, Hernando Beach
Nugent goes back on his promises
U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent needs to answer the following questions:
1) How many dollars have been borrowed to pay Medicare claims for the past 40 years?
2) How many dollars have been borrowed to pay Social Security claims in the past 60 years?
Neither program has contributed one cent to the deficit. I and millions of other Americans have paid into these programs our whole lifetime of employment, and I will not willingly let him or any of his Republican ilk take them away just to let the rich pay less taxes.
What the Republican Party would like to do is not pay back the almost $3 trillion borrowed from the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. This money was borrowed over the years to reduce taxes. Then the Bush administration borrowed even more for the wars and cut taxes at the same time. So now the Republicans want to lower the deficit by not paying that money back, forcing the seniors to pay more and reduce the taxes on the rich.
That money was paid in via FICA taxes over the years and not income taxes. Nugent needs to know we are aware of his actions and it just shows he is not fit to be our congressman. In his short campaign for office, he pledged to protect Social security and Medicare. Now he has gone against that pledge. His behavior is appalling.
Jon Knudson, Spring Hill
Debt ceiling talk is pure theatrics
In U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent's letter, he states that the "onus is on the president to prioritize" payments to various groups if an agreement on raising the debt ceiling is not reached by Aug. 2. Raising the debt ceiling is about providing funds for expenses the country has already incurred, not about developing a budget for the future. The process of raising the debt ceiling has occurred over 20 times in recent years in both Republican and Democratic administrations, without the ridiculous theatrics taking place now.
The reason this country's debt is so attractively priced is that it has the full faith and credit of the U.S. government behind it. Once we abandon that pledge it will be more difficult and more expensive to persuade others to accept our debt. There is simply no telling how the financial markets, corporate America and foreign creditors will react.
Finally, I couldn't help but smile at his closing comment that "we are all in this together". Somehow I don't think Mr. Nugent's financial situation is similar to the typical local resident.
Tom Welter, Trinity
Backward to a Tea Party future | July 22 guest column
Tea party wants lean government
It is quite apparent the guest columnist is an advocate of a big government concept. It seems to be his belief that a collectivist society manipulated and controlled by the mandates of central planners in Washington is the way for the country to proceed.
His latest venture is to castigate the tea party folks through the use of distorted logic. In his lead paragraph, he acknowledges that the tea party folks believe in "smaller government with less regulation of our personal freedom." However, in his follow up narrative, he uses the old broad brush technique to create the impression that their philosophy will result in an irresponsible government that fails to serve citizens in a responsible manner.
To the contrary, people who believe in constitutional government, including but not limited to the tea party folks, will not tolerate a bloated, inefficient and wasteful government. To be quite certain, they look forward to the day when a lean, efficient federal government performs its duties within the constraints of the United States Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution was designed to circumscribe the powers of the federal government and thereby prevent it from intruding on the American spirit of self-reliance and individual accountability. In that respect, the constitution does not authorize Washington politicians and bureaucrats to trample on individual rights by means of confiscatory taxation, profligate spending, social engineering and the redistribution of wealth.
The disgust and outrage of the American public toward Washington is not restricted to the tea party folks. It just so happens that they are the most visible, which makes them a convenient target for ridicule and disparagement by those who favor the left wing, big government agenda. It is well to keep in mind, however, that the tea party did not create the $14.5 trillion debt that now hangs around the necks of the American people like an albatross.
Jack B. McPherson, New Port Richey
River flow cuts would hurt region
The state of Florida, through its acolyte agency Southwest Florida Water Management District, has proposed decreasing the flow rate of the Chassahowitzka River by 15 percent. Why would they do this and how? And what would the consequences be? These questions were asked at a public workshop held in Lecanto last week. The apparent answer is that the water is needed for new development along the Nature Coast. As water is withdrawn from the Floridan aquifer to supply the new development the flow of springs and rivers in the area is reduced. This includes Chassahowitzka, Homosassa, Crystal and Weeki Wachee rivers and the springs that supply them.
The consequences will be environmental damage on a scale not yet seen on the Nature Coast because, as the rivers' flow is decreased, salt water intrudes from the gulf, killing fresh and brackish water species.
Doug Leeper of Swiftmud verified what many local residents have seen: that encroaching sea water already has had this effect on the outer shores along the coast. Fishermen report palm trees dying at the mouth of the river. Doug showed a graph predicting a rise over the next 30 years of at least an additional 6 inches. Considering the destruction of habitat that is forecast due to increase in sea level, it seems, at the best, irresponsible to decrease the flow of these rivers even further by permitted pumping from the already stressed aquifer.
Russell J. Watrous, Land O'Lakes