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Parks are important enough to pay for

Parks could be moneymakers

Why won't our county/city/state administrators listen to the people who have given many years to the parks and recreation departments? They all have many great ideas on how to raise revenue, but I'm told no one will listen.

One group suggested a $10 annual vehicle pass to get into any county or city park. Or how about a $5 pass and parking meters? How about parking meters in lieu of passes?

The city of Clearwater has meters at the beaches. Why can't Tarpon Springs have meters at Fred Howard Park and Sunset Beach? We pay to take our dog to the doggie beach, we pay to go to Honeymoon Island State Park, we pay for the ferry to go to Caladesi Island.

There are many potential moneymakers for the city, county and state. Why not listen to the people who make the parks the beautiful parks they are and let them keep their jobs?

As a patron of the parks, I see and talk to people. I'm told by those from Canada, "If we could find a park as lovely as this one in Canada, we'd have to pay $20 a carload, each time!" Floridians concur they'd be willing to pay their dues as well.

We have what everyone wants and let us not give it away any longer. What if we don't see our parks opening one day with the security and maintenance and continued care for restrooms and garbage removal?

The crews and their supervisors work hard. Please, people, stand up and let's get our leaders together with the people who are responsible for beautifying our parks and let them keep their jobs. There are many great ideas out there. Listen, please.

Dee Jackson, Tarpon Springs

Re: Residents' budget chips fall | story, April 26

Pension plan

isn't sustainable

It is interesting to see that the city of Clearwater used poker chips to ask for taxpayer input on the upcoming budget. That game of poker is exactly what our elected officials are playing with our money when continuing to ignore the sustainability of the current city defined-pension plan.

Incredibly, the city's own handout showed a 211 percent increase in this pension obligation. With the current performance of investments used to fund this archaic pension plan, this number will only continue to escalate.

The city views this as a long-term issue, but unfortunately, the city is about to give away the store with the various upcoming union contracts for another three years.

Every major corporation has terminated the defined pension plans because of escalating costs and has moved its employees to defined contribution or IRA plans. The budget problems are systemic in the employee costs, not the services. Health care costs are up 141 percent and employees still don't pay for health care. Additionally, the police have to have 100 extra vehicles to maintain the take-home car policy costing $3.5-million-plus in operating costs.

After all this waste is fixed, then talk about reducing or closing libraries.

Charles J. Rutz, Clearwater

This is the week to thank teachers

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. I hope that parents of Pinellas County students take the time to stop and show your child's teachers how much you appreciate them.

The future for our teachers is looking bleak with headlines like "2% pay reduction," "Higher health insurance premiums" and "Eliminate exceptional studies teachers" appearing daily.

I would like to give a public show of appreciation to all the teachers at Garrison-Jones Elementary School. In the four years my daughters have been at Garrison, I have yet to encounter a teacher who seems more interested in the paycheck than the welfare of my girls.

I wish every parent could enroll their children in an environment where, when teachers and administrators retire, they come back as volunteers to keep enriching the school. I value teachers' hard work and dedication to a career that is too important to be facing budget cuts and a loss of materials during these already difficult financial times.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, send in a small token of your appreciation for the people who will be molding the next generation of our children. Truthfully, this is the environment where morals are built and values are being decided. I am proud to say that my secondary team of "moms and dads" are helping me create active, healthy, honest and intelligent young ladies.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all Pinellas County teachers!

Shawn Marsh, Dunedin

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Parks are important enough to pay for 05/05/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2008 1:38pm]
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