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Port Richey budget makes the best of a tough time

Council member can't cut spending | Sept. 30, letter

Making do with what we've got

Tax revenues weren't increased. The council adopted what is called a rollback rate, which essentially brings in the same amount of revenue as the previous year. Keeping the rate at 3.9 mills would have meant a $100,000 decrease in revenue to the city and would have effectively been a tax decrease, however insignificant, for most citizens.

Most municipalities, including Port Richey, cannot afford to lower taxes this year for obvious reasons. The $100,000 that council member Phil Abts refers to in his letter as being spent on "employee salaries and 2 percent pay increases" is precisely the same $100,000 that would have been lost if the rollback rate had not been adopted. This year's budget total represents a significant decrease in spending over last year.

The "employee salaries and 2 percent pay increases" Abts refers to includes the hiring of a police officer to fill one of the several vacancies within a short-staffed Police Department. This item accounts for more than half of the available funding. The meager salary increase comes as a result of a pay study conducted by the city which indicated that most of our employees are paid well below the average for their particular positions. Combined with a net loss of 26 percent of our staff over a number of years (not one year as Abts incorrectly indicated), our employees are burdened with an increased workload for substandard compensation.

Also, while the restricted funds within the CRA continue to grow each passing year, the general fund remains stagnant. The CRA funds some of the city's biggest and most complex projects. These projects must be administered and implemented by city staff. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for a general fund that is already stressed as a result of losing massive amounts of revenue to the CRA to suffer the additional burden of salaries to support these CRA functions and projects.

I'm not sure what Ms. Posivach's compensation has to do with any of this, but her salary package (the figure Abts quotes includes all benefits) is not significantly higher than what we have paid past managers. The major difference is that she has over 30 years of experience in municipal government, a significant portion of which includes dealing with issues that are specifically applicable to a Florida waterfront community, including oversight of successful dredging projects and national recognition for her fiscal stewardship.

Our current budget, while balanced, still does not meet all of our needs as a full service municipality. It amounts to doing the very best we can with very limited resources. Continuing to believe that we can somehow provide services that are on par with our neighbors while proportionally collecting far less in revenue carries us down a path that leads to disappointment at best and tragedy at worst. This new budget buys us less than a year to begin demonstrating that we are willing to pay for what we say we want.

Perry Bean, Port Richey City Council

Jail farm gets muscle truck Sept. 30, article

What? No local hog feed vendor?

While we must commend any and all efforts to engage inmates in productive activities, the agricultural programs at the Pasco County Detention Center should be financially self supporting and should operate at no cost to taxpayers.

I read, with interest, about the purchase of a military truck for $3,500 and the additional expenses to make it operational for the purpose of transporting supplies and materials for the program. I had no quarrel with any of it until I read that the truck will be used haul hog feed purchased in Lake City. What is this costing us in terms of gas and personnel?

Apparently there is no source of hog feed in Pasco County.

Robert Guenkel, Spring Hill

Danger and sloth at Hicks Road job

I was very much appalled and dismayed by the dangerous situations being created by Pasco County Road and Bridge, while conducting construction work on Hicks Road.

On Sept. 30, traffic was reduced to one lane along Hicks Road, which is being controlled by a flagman. For nearly a mile the traffic is reduced to one lane, however there is no control of traffic entering Hicks Road from the side streets. As a result while I was driving down this regulated one lane, through the construction zone, I had several vehicles that were driving toward me, head-on. Not only is this creating a very unsafe situation on county roads but it also reduces the flow of traffic through this construction zone, either I or the other vehicles were made to pull off to the side of the road.

I fear the older persons who may not be completely aware, driving head-on into oncoming traffic through the Hicks Road construction zone, making Pasco County responsible. I am almost certain that this is not how traffic through this construction zone is supposed to be handled.

In addition to the unsafe condition there were at least eight to 10 individual workers simply standing around watching the chaos. One worker was observed standing on the side of the road watching the traffic back up while he pulled a fresh cigar from his shirt pocket. For nearly five minutes this worker was observed standing there, chewing and picking at the end of his cigar. Others were standing around watching their co-workers putting in their hard day's work, while conversing with another that was standing by.

Not only does this seem irresponsible but it really doesn't look good in these hard times when there are so many out of work and who would be willing to put forth the work, unlike those observed.

Jeff Cannon, Hudson

Thanks for doing the right thing

On Sept. 17, I lost my phone and identification cards. I was in my Winn Dixie shopping. My daughter (caretaker) looked in our car, at home and in the garage. She began calling my phone, and after many tries a man answered. We met him in the parking lot of the Knights of Columbus. He had my phone and gladly returned it to us. We wanted to reward him, but had to convince him that he did the right thing and should take some money.

He did not have my driver's license, Medicare or Blue Cross cards. Later, we got a call from Ashley at the Winn Dixie service desk. She had called Blue Cross trying to get a telephone number for me because she had all three of my cards. She did not know who found them or brought them into the store. We wanted to reward her, too, but learned Winn Dixie has a no-reward policy for all employees.

We understand and I will continue shopping there as I have since 1994. Bless all the people who were so good and did the right thing.

Ruthe Ross-Petillo, Spring Hill

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Port Richey budget makes the best of a tough time 10/01/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 1, 2009 6:39pm]
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