Editor: On Nov. 6, voters of this state will determine whether they wish to keep local taxes local. On the election ballot is Amendment 3, which would limit non-financed state legislative mandates on cities and counties. Since 1981, the Florida Legislature has placed 188 such mandates upon cities and counties, with more than 85 percent having an undetermined fiscal impact on cities and counties. These mandates are actions required of cities and counties by state law without adequate financing resources. They require cities and counties to adjust local services and raise local property taxes and user fees to pay for the programs. Consequently, cities such as Tarpon Springs have been required to spend money on state mandates and take away local property tax dollars paid by the citizens of Tarpon Springs from the priorities of Tarpon Springs' citizens.
Amendment 3 does not affect laws already in existence. If Amendment 3 is passed, it will force the Legislature to take a closer look at the real cost of programs and services before requiring cities and counties and the local taxpayer to pay the bill. Numerous cities, including Tarpon Springs, have adopted resolutions strongly supporting Amendment 3.
I strongly urge the voters of the city of Tarpon Springs and Pinellas County to vote yes on Amendment 3. A yes vote on Amendment 3 is a vote to keep our local taxes local.
Anita E. Protos, Mayor, Tarpon Springs
City manager should be accountable
Editor: Three cheers for Al Gryncewicz. It is like a breath of fresh air when a city employee has the courage to write the type of letter he has written to make a taxpaying citizen aware of how money is being wasted by his boss, City Manager Ron Rabun.
The City Commission looks as if it is boys against girls, and Mr. Rabun is one of the boys.
This city has a full-time mayor for part-time pay, who puts in more than an eight-hour day. When Mayor Rita Garvey wanted to keep (former city manager) Tony Shoemaker, all were against her. Now many wish he were back in command. Hindsight always is better than foresight.
Taxpayer, wake up before it is too late. Look at the salaries that management is getting. Rabun hired a woman from Gulfport earning $25,000 a year at the increased salary of $65,000 a year. What a beautiful raise! If he had not hired her at that amount, how else could he have justified his own salary, when assistant managers are doing most of the work?
We are paying a city manager close to $100,000 a year (with his benefits) to do what? Mismanage spending, create dissension among city employees, raise taxes with no better benefits, so that we can raise salaries in top management.
I think it is time for the boys to take a little time to listen to the girls on the City Commission. If not, maybe it is time for the taxpayers to take a long look at finding commissioners who care about where the tax dollars go.
Taxpayer of Clearwater, don't just groan when you get your tax bill in November. Stand up now and be heard. Let the commission know that you want your money's worth _ a city manager who cares about us and the people who do the day-to-day running of our city.
Louise C. Riley, Clearwater
Hospital deserves credit for effort
Editor: Your Oct. 9 article concerning little Paige Templeton was well-written and demonstrates how quickly people respond when others need help.
Paige weighed 1 pound 12 ounces at birth, delivering 14 weeks prematurely, and then developed a condition related to prematurity that threatened her eyesight. Due to quick recognition by Dr. Michael Somers, and the kindness of many people, timely surgery has prevented this from happening.
I would like to point out something that was left out of your article. This tiny baby was born at Mease Hospital Dunedin and was cared for in Mease's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It is not widely known that our unit has been in existence since early 1987 and has cared for more than 700 sick and premature newborns, whose families live in upper Pinellas County, as well as Pasco and more northern counties.
If this unit had not been in existence, more than half of these babies would have required transfer to regional centers some distance from their homes. In the past year only three babies have had to make such a trip, due to extraordinary needs.
In addition, without the existence of this unit at Mease, Paige Templeton's chances of survival would have been greatly reduced because a transfer to another hospital in itself carries great risks for these extremely premature babies. While sometimes a transfer is unavoidable, many studies show that newborns who can be cared for in the hospital of birth have a significantly greater chance of survival, as long as the hospital has the resources to care for them.
Paige was our eighth graduate whose birth weight was less than 2 pounds (we will soon have our 12th). Our smallest graduate weighed 1 pound 6 ounces and was 17 weeks premature and now is a healthy toddler.
Our unit is small when compared with those in regional centers. But we pride ourselves in the quality of care and the close personal attention that the three neonatologists _ pediatricians who specialize in newborn care _ the neonatal nurses and respiratory therapists provide to the babies and their families.
We hope that by printing this letter you will give us recognition that is long overdue.
Dr. Mary T. Newport, director of neonatology, Mease Hospital Dunedin
Vote yes for both East Lake taxes
Editor: "No new taxes," just a redistribution of the one on your current October 1990 tax bill. As a resident of the East Lake Tarpon Fire Control District, you are now taxed up to 0.5 mill for the use of the county library services. (A mill is equivalent to $1 for each $1,000 of assessed, non-exempt real property.) It is a fact that if both the referendums _ up to 0.25 mill on the library and up to 0.25 mill on recreation _ pass, we the residents will not be liable for that tax to the county library system. The area would not be double-taxed, and we would get two services for what we are now paying for one.
We would then form our own Municipal Services Taxing Unit and a Community Services Board made up of 11 residents of this community chosen by the county commissioners. This would enable us to apply for county and state grants to help us build a library. We also would still be part of the county library system at no additional cost.
I hope the residents of the East Lake area will not allow this golden opportunity to pass us by.
What better way to ensure a future for our children than to have library and recreation facilities of our own? This is a fast-growing and affluent community, and we should have a say in how we shape our community. We can provide the facilities for ourselves at no additional tax burden, and promote education and fitness for us all. We could indeed benefit from the same type of facilities our neighbor, Palm Harbor, has.
Our county commissioners are there to serve us and help us to obtain our goals if we choose this course. Vote "yes" for library and "yes" for recreation on Nov. 6. If you are interested enough to serve on the Community Services Board, then please forward your name to our county commissioners.
Dee Garvey, East Lake
Consider tax burden of East Lake vote
Editor: Much action is afoot for establishing a library and recreation services for people living east of Lake Tarpon. This has resulted in an ordinance that will place two referendums on the November ballot for voters to decide whether to tax themselves 0.25 mill for each service.
My concern is how much information the public has to make an educated decision on these matters. Some of the questions that beg answers are:
1. A similar tax proposal failed to pass the voters two years ago. How have conditions changed to require another vote?
2. How much will each of these ultimately cost?
3. Where will the money come from?
4. How long will it take to get that money?
5. How long will it take to repay that money?
6. Where will the facilities be?
7. The new countywide library service offers a wide array of resources already in place and is capped at 0.5 mill. Are the locations really too far to serve most of the population east of the lake?
8. Eight percent of the monies collected for the present cooperative can be used for building new libraries when need is demonstrated. Why create yet another cost center with all its attendant staffing and costs when one is already in place?
9. Are there really insufficient recreation sites and activities? What are they, and what age groups are being deprived?
I have only recently become interested in finding answers to these questions because I have never liked to buy a "pig in a poke." I know I will have more questions as time passes, and perhaps some of you who read this will share yours with us through this medium.
The "Friends of East Lake" (their own moniker) did an admirable job of gathering signatures on the petition that mandated the placing of these issues on the ballot. I hope the 1,100 petitioners are fully cognizant of the consequences that will result before they ratify their signatures with a "yes" vote.
I personally must vote "no" until I know my fixed income will not be tapped even more for service that I do not need, because my needs are now adequately met. I urge all taxpayers to examine the issues thoroughly before committing themselves and future residents of the East Lake to more costs than they thought there were.
Bernice Halfon, East Lake
Oldsmar politics looks like a saga
Editor: Re: Oldsmar payment hit, Oct. 17.
Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! Hell hath no fury like a defeated candidate!
Or. ... we here in Oldsmar could be involved in the next election in a subtle manner.
First we heard accusations of "conflict of interest." Next it was "nepotism." Now the gem of all _ we are told of a "bribe!"
Seems a little early to campaign for the next election, but then, who knows? Stay tuned for the next chapter in the saga of Oldsmar politics.
Ella Campoli, Oldsmar