Independent fire district too pricey
Spring Hill Fire Board members are supposed to be concerned with the best interests of the Spring Hill community at large. They were not elected or appointed to be the representatives or advocates for the Spring Hill Fire and Rescue employees. That's the job of the firefighters union and the union president. However, this was not the case at the Sept. 30 special public meeting held to vote on a contract amendment to the existing three-year contract with the firefighters (which was forced on this Fire Board by a few concerned citizens at the previous regular meeting). The fire commissioners, with one exception, clearly came down on the side of the union members.
Prior to the start of the meeting, the chairman announced that no public comment would be allowed. When he was shown a document that stated that public comment could not be banned, he relented and allowed each speaker three minutes to express his or her opinions or questions concerning only the new contract being brought up for vote. The chairman also delayed calling the meeting to order past the scheduled 7 p.m. start to wait for the fifth commissioner even though there was a quorum present.
After public comments were completed and prior to the vote it was clear from the comments made by the commissioners (especially the chairman) that the only consideration was for getting the "best possible firefighters for Spring Hill" and that "they deserved" everything they could get from the board.
And they got a lot.
The contract amendment in reality was a complete new contract, with new start and end dates which in effect gives the firefighters a four-year contract. There is nothing in this new contract that refers to the original contract documents or that states the remaining provisions of the original contract remain fully in effect because there are no remaining provisions.
This contract includes:
• 3 percent pay raises so that a beginning firefighter/EMT will receive $40,682 a year;
• Each employee will receive up to an additional $15,078.72 per year for health insurance to cover the member and his family;
• Annual contract review to "only discuss salary increases and all insurances";
• Suspension for 28 days with pay for testing positive for drugs.
The vote to accept the contract was 4-1. The taxpayers of Spring Hill can't afford to fund or support Spring Hill Fire Rescue as an independent fire district and as a separate taxing authority. Vote no on Nov. 4.
Clayton Lynch, Spring Hill
Spring Hill has great firefighters
Why should the taxpayers of Spring Hill want to be independent from Hernando County?
We have the best equipment and the best professional firefighters, the fastest response time because all of them work together. The response time is three or four minutes. We need one more fire station built by the library on Spring Hill Drive. This will save lives.
I think we should get started on fire station No. 5. When we need to expand the library, you can always add upward. The county commissioners could let that land stay the way it is today.
If you live within 3 miles of a fire station and 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant, check with your insurance company and ask them for a discount. A lot of you who live in the Spring Hill fire district could save money.
Jim Monk, Spring Hill
Most of the tax money well spent
We get what we pay for. Trying to get something for nothing, or at best, a lot for a little is one of the causes of the financial problems the nation is now dealing with. It seems that the voters approve every tax cut proposition that is put on the ballot.
The expectations of our municipal workers to keep doing more with less is unreasonable. I enjoy our county parks, appreciate driving on well-maintained roads, use the library, have been transported by an ambulance and am grateful to the driver and the attendant's kindness, competence and professionalism.
Most of the money collected as taxes is well spent; we get more than a fair return from our investment. The people that provide the services, some essential, most at least important, deserve to be paid fairly and given respect and appreciation. When we work, we want adequate compensation; should we deny it to others?
I am not a county employee. We moved to Florida from the north three years ago. Admittedly, one of the attractions to us was lower taxation and more moderate standard of living.
People should not confuse every expenditure of tax revenues as wasteful or excessive. We the taxpayers need to use our discretion, trust those we elect to ask for the amount of money they feel is necessary to conduct the government's business and have faith in their integrity and ability. We should not hamper the effectiveness of our government officials with binding propositions.
Dan Greene, Spring Hill
Druzbick mailing below the belt
The recent mailing by John Druzbick is below the belt and a low blow in reference to Commissioner Diane Rowden's 1993 brush with the Sunshine Law when she was new to the political process.
That was then. This is now. In the interim, Ms. Rowden has been exemplary in her sense for policy, government and judgment.
Charles Owen, Brooksville
See who's right, not just who's reasonable | Oct. 7, Dan Dewitt column
Look at Rowden's voting record
Why is the Times always pandering to the Democrats and Diane Rowden in particular?
You left out some very important facts. We do need to look at her voting record. Hernando County has a 9 percent unemployment rate. We need the type of responsible growth in this county that would encourage industry and would jump start steady employment and furnish the county with a good tax base.
If you have ever watched the County Commission meetings you would know that Rowden initially voted against Hickory Hill, changed her mind, voted for it and in the final vote, against it.
Do you realize that some of the little people referred to are physicians in Hernando County who contributed $6,680, HMA Brooksville/Spring Hill Regional Hospitals $500, and a major road contractor who contributed $1,000?
I suggest you obtain Rowden's contribution record from the supervisor of elections office before you write the next article. It makes very interesting reading.
Jini Sommerfeld, Spring Hill
Moore dares to speak out
I have never been closer to a remarkable individual on the ballot for president under the banner of the Socialist Party as I have with Brian Moore of Hernando County.
I've been with him on the stump. I've helped him with air travel to distant states. I've worked in Ohio to get Brian on the ballot, a first for my home state. I've encouraged him when struggling to get on the ballot in other states, a process that has different rules for different states.
Brian is not so much a maverick but in the mainstream of the Democrat ideology, more to the left than not, daring to speak out and demonstrate on the sides of the roads with banners and signs along with a cadre of supporters.
Deron Mikal, Brooksville