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Flier on library assailed

Some of the directors of the Citizens Action League have mailed out a flier that argues against voting for taxing East Lake residents to provide library and recreation services, and some league members are upset about it. "They've done some real slippery things here," said Judy Nobles, a league member who spearheaded the drive to put the tax proposal on next week's ballot.

Two of the league's directors, Larry and Dee Garvey, said Tuesday they would resign from the board in protest. Garvey also resigned his post as treasurer of the community political action group.

But league President Zora Swanson said, "I really don't know what they're so upset about." The flier, she said, "is not taking a stand. We are not saying vote "yes' or vote "no.'

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East Lake voters will decide Tuesday whether they want to levy a pair of new property taxes that would raise money for library and recreation programs for their 16,000 residents.

Some of the league's 137 members have campaigned hard to get voter approval for the taxes, while others have spoken out against them. Because of the split, the full membership of the league has voted to remain neutral.

Yet the flier that arrived in about 4,000 mailboxes this week, bearing the league's name at the bottom, presents several arguments against the library and recreation taxes.

"We do not have the tax base to support a library without incurring an enormous debt," the flier contends. "Recreation facilities and programs of every conceivable kind, both for children and adults, abound in our immediate area."

The flier does not directly advocate defeating the tax proposal, but says, "How should you vote? Read the facts and decide."

However, Nobles said, "There are a lot of things they have left out."

For instance, the flier says, "The recreation referendum seeks tax support for capital improvements on property owned by a private corporation."

But the flier fails to say that the private non-profit corporation, the Upper Pinellas Youth Sports Association, has agreed to donate its 26-acre complex of football, baseball and soccer fields to the community if the recreation tax passes.

The flier also says County Attorney Susan Churuti "has said she is not sure" about whether East Lake residents can escape paying their share of the countywide library cooperative tax by approving a new, homegrown tax to support their own library.

It does not mention that after Churuti raised that question earlier this year, she concluded in August that East Lake can stop paying the countywide tax if the local library tax passes.

Advocates of the library and recreation taxes also are upset by the figures the flier quotes as the money that would be available for a library should the referendum pass. It states that the community would have to go $6,000 in debt just to join the countywide cooperative.

However, tax supporters contend the flier is off by $22-million in figuring the total taxable value of land in East Lake, and that's where the disagreement begins. Nobles says her figures indicate thousands of dollars in tax money could be used to begin building a library.

What has angered supporters of the library and recreation tax most is that the flier was put together and mailed out by a small committee of the league's leaders without consulting with anyone else.

"The membership has been cheated," Mrs. Garvey said.

League directors originally paid for the flier and mailing labels with league funds. But when some people questioned the expenditure, several members reimbursed the league, Swanson said.

The 4,000 families that received the league flier soon will have another one to compare it to. The organization that pushed for next week's referendum vote, the Friends of East Lake Tarpon Library/Rec, mailed out its own flier advocating the taxes Tuesday.

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