Fire district shouldn't try to mislead voters | May 22 editorial
Slanted picture of local fire board
It is very obvious that the St. Petersburg Times is trying to mislead the public, not the other way around. I have attended many meetings with regards to this situation, both by the County Commission and the fire commission, and it has been recommended by the county board that the fire board should educate people on the possibilities of what will happen to their district depending on the results of the taxing authority referendum. That is what the fire board is doing.
This newspaper continually does nothing but print negativity toward the fire district. The editorial states that churches are charged a flat fee for fire tax in the county. It is very clear and accurate that everyone in the county fire district does pay a minimum of $194.87 and that includes churches and disabled veterans. That is a heck of a lot more than what many in Spring Hill pay.
I would like to see the St. Petersburg Times begin to print the whole picture and not your one-sided version. Spring Hill residents, vote "yes'' and keep what you have paid for all these years right where it belongs, in Spring Hill.
Don't be fooled by newspapers and County Administrator David Hamilton. Read the fine print. Vote "yes.''
Michael Gennusa Sr., Spring Hill
Don't trust the fire rescue board
It appears to me the Spring Hill Fire Rescue Board is trying to scare the voters into believing if we are taxed by the county, our fire tax will be sent to some astronomical number. This is the same board that allowed the purchase of a three-quarter-million-dollar ladder truck during the years when the tax money was rolling in. Not that it was needed, oh no, but an ego trip so they could have it for parades.
This community has no justification for the purchase and operation of such a large piece of equipment. The fire district does not have enough manpower to run such a truck to alarms. Ask any retired city firefighter how many men are needed to operate a ladder truck. He will tell you a minimum of four to five is preferred.
It is my observation the fire rescue personnel do a good job, but we sorely need better management. Being combined with Hernando County Fire Rescue is certainly a better way to go. Vote "no'' on the referendum to allow that fire board to assess taxes. The members cannot be trusted.
Jon Knudson, Spring Hill
County won't keep its promise
Your paper uses its editorial powers to give a very improper view of Spring Hill Fire and its present appeal to the citizens of Spring Hill regarding the permission to collect the already existing 2.5 mill tax.
I have lived in Spring Hill 13-plus years, most of that time serving as a volunteer chaplain for the fire department. What this paper and a very small handful of citizens have done over and over is dominate the editorial column and blogs with quite slanted and often misleading and in some cases dishonest information.
It is true there are two members of the existing board who have openly stated they were originally against our fire department being independent.
I have had many tell me that the way they read the August ballot, they thought we were asking for an additional 2.5 mil in tax.
So now we arrive at a place where we are faced with a vote that will either mean the end of Spring Hill Fire as we know it, or citizens will allow the men and women who have, for nearly 40 years, faithfully served and run a very frugal department.
What gets lost in the anti-Spring Hill sentiment is that in a general election two years earlier, 25,000 people voted to establish an independent fire district in Spring Hill; those against were 19,000.
The County Commission chose to be politicians. The path to getting this done has been stalled and delayed by very coy tactics, including voting 4-0 to ask a judge for the continued collection agreement until a primary election could be held. But they then switched gears and forced the election now being held and cost the Spring Hill residents the unnecessary spending of funds for it.
I may ruffle some feathers but from what I have seen of the reliability of the County Commission, I trust what the county administrator said about as much as this past week's prediction by Harold Camping that the world was going to end.
It is my honest belief the county may temporarily do what is stated, but I will go out on the line to say in short order Spring Hill will be paying a tax very much like Hernando County. I have lived 59 years and in those years have heard thousands of promises from politicians scrambling to reach an ends. Precious few have been kept.
When I look at the dredge project, Elgin Boulevard, the $37 million budget amendment, the vast list of county government department heads and employees fired over the past three years, and then I look at what I know to be true about Spring Hill Fire, I could not in good conscience vote anything but "yes'' to allow Spring Hill Fire the right to collect my tax.
The Rev. Jack L. Martin Sr., Spring Hill
Fire district can add special fees
The Spring Hill Fire District is sending out an electioneering brochure costing thousands of our taxpayers' dollars to get taxing authority. Yes, we are voting on this issue again only nine months after our past vote — a vote where 59 percent of the voters said "no,'' denying the district the ability to levy taxes.
What the district isn't telling you is that the county has already publicly stated that if the "do-over" vote fails, fire and EMS will continue uninterrupted at the exact millage of 2.5 the district has today. The district would rather scare you into believing that the county will impose the flat fire assessment on all Spring Hill properties. The county has already gone on record at the April 26 commission meeting and the county administrator's May 20 plan that won't happen.
What the fire district won't tell you is that under the Florida law governing independent districts, the fire district can implement special fees and charges without a public vote.
The fire district also won't tell you that the Board of Fire Commissioners spent nine months doing nothing to address the looming funding issues. Instead they addressed e-mails, where the commissioner should sit, who should give the invocation, etc, but whenever the critical issue of future funding was raised it was summarily dismissed by the administration as not important, the county would go along with ignoring a public vote and continue taxing regardless of the vote.
Don't be fooled by the district. Fire and EMS will be provided by the county at the same tax rate it is today with the same equipment, firefighters and same station houses. But now, we the taxpayers through the county, have the opportunity to save money by consolidating operations. Vote "no,'' stop the lies.
Anne Kraus-Keenan, Spring Hill
Reduce salaries of commissioners
I appreciate attempting to maintain a budget and having to cope with cutbacks. I also appreciate as Hernando County commissioners the task and public opinion cannot be easy to deal with.
With that being said, as a goodwill gesture on their part, have they considered a significant reduction in their salaries as commissioners?
Janice Gianneschi, Weeki Wachee