Re: Panel has consultant in mind to reconfigure EMS coverage | story, July 11
Consultant is not needed to trim fat
Okay, here we go again. Is this the second, third, or fourth consultant study?
This newest one, Fitch and Associates, comes with a nearly $300,000 price tag! My EMS tax was raised last year, and we were told by County Administrator Bob LaSala that there would be no additional tax increases. Well here we are, another tax increase looming in our future, and a 300K consultant.
What was learned from the other consulting studies? What about Jeff Bernard's study a few years ago? A final product was never delivered. May we expect the same from Fitch and Associates?
As a resident and a consumer of Pinellas EMS service, I find this unacceptable. A little "fat trimming" on the bloated carcass we call EMS is long overdue. Eighteen fire departments, all with chiefs, assistant chiefs, division chiefs and deputy chiefs. A redundant private ambulance company. A County Commission that seems incapable of making a decision. County politics at it's finest, I must say.
Cut a few ambulances, cut a few fire department units, let fire departments transport 911-generated patients. I earnestly believe that a 1-2 minute longer response time would have little or no impact, as a majority of 911 calls are non-life threatening and are downgraded to non-emergency response after 911 interrogation.
I also wonder if a tax increase is granted — and it will be, mark my words — is it ever going to be decreased when the property tax revenue improves? I have never seen a tax go away. Once in place, always in place.
Don Richter, Palm Harbor
Re: Tax hike needed to cover EMS | story, July 1
Let's try a penny to pay for services
I just saw Pinellas County Administrator Robert LaSala's interview on Bay News 9 about a millage increase to cover some services like EMS, etc. I fully understand that these services are essential and must be funded. However, what I don't understand is why the homeowner is always targeted through property taxes to fund everything.
We have the Penny for Pinellas sales tax that covers capital improvement and equipment. Why could we not let the voters decide on a Penny for Pinellas operating fund? In this way, tourists, renters, recipients of public assistance and virtually everyone contributes to the services that they all use.
Some examples of why this is so unfair:
• A tourist from Minnesota is involved in an accident while on vacation in Florida. They require first responders (Fire Rescue) and transport to the hospital (Sunstar ambulance). The homeowner subsidizes both services.
• Some folks don't own cars and depend on the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority for transportation. I am a homeowner but have not ridden the bus in 50 years, yet I subsidize the PSTA. Again, a sales tax would result in everyone contributing, including me, but also the above group of non-home owners.
It is about time that people who buy into their community by purchasing a home stop footing the bill for those who don't. I'm not trying to avoid paying taxes. I would just like to see everyone share the burden.
David M. Hollingsworth, St . Petersburg
Re: Lose the car, but perk stays | story, July 12
End car perk, not fold it into salary
Sigh, here we go again. What part of "get rid of the car perk" didn't Clearwater get?
The whole reason for citizens asking — dare I say, demanding — that this giveaway be stopped was to save money, tax money, our tax money. If those "20 officials" don't want to give up the money, then perhaps it is time for them to move along to another job. That includes Bill Horne, the city manager who seems to have become far too complacent in his position.
Mr. Horne, you manage our city, the tax money of our city, and we want you to save some of our taxes from being spent in a way that we mere citizens feel is unreasonable.
Dave Cordes, Clearwater
A call to end all tax exemptions
Why will no one address the issue of nonprofits abusing the tax code and push for the elimination of all tax exemptions?
Religious organizations and nonprofits will own more and more tax-exempt property and pass the cost on to the general public. I should call myself a church and donate everything to it to escape taxes. Is that the answer?
William E. Mcpherson, Palm Harbor