Pinellas taxes likely to rise story, July 17, and One tax hike at a time in Pinellas editorial, July 18
Tax increase far from 'prudent'
Last year when the County Commission voted to raise real estate taxes, one commissioner was quoted as saying something like, "The public seems to understand the budget crunch we are facing, there were only 32 letters objecting to the increase."
I was one of those with an objection — and I'm objecting again.
The way this latest push to increase real estate taxes was characterized in the Times is shameful. Three different types of increases were proposed. "Only" one type now seems to be gaining support, so your editorial says that the commission is being prudent. Prudent?
Prudent is telling the county administrator and department heads to sharpen their pencils and come back to the commission with a zero tax increase budget — or else.
That's the kind of budget decision-making that Pinellas County residents are dealing with every day. Landlords can't simply "decide" to increase their revenue by 5 percent. Business owners can't just charge 5 percent more to cover this added expense. The current market doesn't support this, and tax increases like this don't happen in a bubble. There is a trickle-down effect.
With the impact projected at $100 per year for the mythical "average county resident," you might be tempted to think that this is not a big issue. But there is no "average" resident, that's just a calculation. People on the lower end of the economic spectrum may have less of a direct financial burden, but they are impacted far more when the pain trickles down.
People on the higher end of the economic spectrum will see a lot bigger impact than $100 per year, and they will find ways to cover that impact — fewer dinners out, fewer visits to the Trop or the movie theater, generally less discretionary spending, with that impact trickling down.
This is the time for extreme governmental belt-tightening, not gradual tax increases. This tax increase will really ratchet up over time as property values recover. It's not prudent, and this is not the leadership that voters and Pinellas County property owners want from our elected officials.
John A. Skicewicz, Clearwater
Dunedin discusses boosting tax rate | story, July 17
Remember how we built this city
We Built This City on Rock and Roll — Jefferson Starship
We "built this city" — Dunedin — on innovation, inclusion, sense of place, the arts and culture, and quality of life and services.
The recent discussion on a proposed tax adjustment in order to preserve Dunedin's unique attributes and services in my opinion stymied the collective imagination, wisdom and labor of generations of community leaders, volunteers and city administrators.
I applaud the courage of a majority of the Dunedin City Commission to make a hard and appropriate decision to approve a proposal for a prudent tax rate increase, which upholds the objectives which support our unique community.
We "built this city" on the ability to make the hard decisions that uphold its long tradition of quality services and a superior quality of life.
Make the decision on a prudent tax increase that will continue the tradition of those objectives upon which "we built our city."
Deborah Pointer Kynes, Dunedin
Ireland has new issue: growth | story, July 16
Pastor not at fault in Nugent case
In the past, the Times has provided balanced reporting of the issues surrounding the funding of Ireland Nugent's trust. However, in today's story, a comment by Nicole Nugent about hard feelings toward the Rev. Dr. Dennis Reid was again reported, without a balancing context.
The Nugents' media attacks on Pastor Dennis, of which this is another, began when the Nugents felt they didn't get the trust funded quickly enough and they blamed him.
First, the governing body of Trinity Presbyterian Church — 14 people in all, of which the ministers are just two — made and make all decisions about church business. The minister has no power to make a solo decision. All Presbyterians know this.
Second, the trust documents were submitted by the Nugents' financial representatives to Dr. Reid and Trinity's governing body on a Thursday afternoon and the approval was given on the following Monday. The governing body requested time for them and the church's attorney to review the document and meet again to vote on transferring the funds.
As a contributor to the Ireland Fund, I expected due diligence to ensure that the money goes to Ireland for her health care and nowhere else.
As a church member, I expect informed assurance that the church is not at future risk due to misallocating the funds.
Had the Nugents' representatives been quicker in sending the trust documents, the transfer of funds could have been accomplished earlier. To blame Pastor Dennis is inaccurate, irresponsible and ungrateful.
It's a sad truth that the desire for money separates families, even inside a church.
Patti Rogers, Belleair
Local charity has low overhead
Here in Pinellas County we have RCS (Religious Community Services), which is not well known but has been in existence for the past 40 years and serves thousands of people every year.
RCS is composed of a thrift store on East Bay Drive that helps finance the RCS Food Bank on Druid Avenue; Grace House, which provides immediate housing for homeless families; and the Haven of RCS and its outreach ministries for battered women and their children.
This is a charity most worthy of community support, with less than 9 percent (of its budget) spent for administrative costs.
the Rev. Timothy Nehls, Palm Harbor