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Your letters: Realistic budget planning needed

Wild guesses not ideal, but they're all we have | Diane Steinle column, March 2

Realistic budget planning needed

After many years, my feeling persists that the budgets for state (and possibly local) government departments have been too large to start with.

Almost anyone who has been a state employee involved in spending the funds budgeted for their department will know that when the end of the fiscal year approaches, you are urged to find ways to spend the rest of the money in the fund for the year or risk losing the automatic increase for the next year.

I had hopes that the group that works every 10 years on state budget and taxation reform would tackle that item, as well as finding new ways to raise certain taxes. Does each department still get an automatic increase yearly? What hopes do we have for more realistic planning?

It took a large outcry from citizens in the area around 102nd Avenue N to stop the county's plans for the unnecessary widening of that road.

Betty Upson-Schmitz, Largo

Wild guesses not ideal, but they're all we have | Diane Steinle column, March 2

Steinle's column was enlightening

As a 20-year (and proud) employee of the city of Clearwater, I want to thank you so much for your insightful article. It is easy for Clearwater and Pinellas County residents to claim that local government is spendthrift and prone to over-taxing when, in fact, most local agencies are run very frugally and retain only the minimum reserves.

I am very fortunate that my department — Solid Waste — is an enterprise system, i.e., operated like a "business," as are the water and gas systems. Contrary to popular myth, we use no tax dollars and instead are funded entirely by user fees and revenues from the sale of recyclables. Rather than make any profit, we return a large proportion of our revenue to the city's general fund, which helps finance the police, fire, library, parks and recreation, and other departments.

In times such as these (after the passing of Amendment 1, and prior to that), we have largely been holding our own vacancies open so that we may absorb staff from general fund departments who may otherwise be laid off.

Our residents should understand that city and county employees are also local property owners and consumers, facing the same dilemmas and tax and insurance issues as the very citizens we serve. Some of my fellow city employees are now possibly facing losing their jobs and/or service or retirement benefits — for the sake of about $20 savings per month per local homeowner.

Again, my thanks for your perceptive and enlightening column. We are in your debt!

Julia Jablonski, Palm Harbor

Dunedin voters will choose wisely

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Over the years the voters in Dunedin have always gotten it right. I have no doubt that history will repeat itself in the upcoming election on Tuesday. I was extremely pleased with the St. Petersburg Times' endorsements of not only the candidates but the amendments as well.

The elected officials made the right decision when they voted to give the citizens the opportunity to vote to either amend or reject the city charter regarding the method by which citizens are elected to the Dunedin City Commission.

The potential of more candidates surfacing in the future, along with a greater turnout in voting, are reason enough for one to suggest that Question 1 be adopted. This would not encourage ward politics. Instead it would broaden the opportunity for more open discussion and competition, which would result in a healthy Dunedin.

Regardless of which method is chosen, negative politics will never be eliminated. That is obvious from the two recent letters to the editor by citizens who are criticizing the Times for the endorsement it chose to make.

The fact that the majority members of the Dunedin City Commission chose to ignore the recommendation of the Charter Review Committee is not a sin. The Charter Review Committee is advisory only and appointed by the City Commission. If recommendations made by any appointed body are automatically adopted by the City Commission, then why have them? Tax dollars can be saved by simply using advisory boards instead of elected officials. How democratic would that be?

The elected officials who chose to put this issue on the ballot should be commended and the St. Petersburg Times editorial board should be complimented as well for the recent endorsements.

I know the citizens of Dunedin will get it right again.

Manuel "Manny" Koutsourais, Dunedin mayor, 1988-94

>>your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

. your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at www.tampabay.com/letters, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

Your letters: Realistic budget planning needed 03/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:31am]

    

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