County Commission candidate Chester White Sr. says Citrus County has many problems but that throwing money at them is not the solution. "I don't think you can buy your way out of everything," he said. He is urging voters to defeat the referendum that would increase the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to finance construction of a new jail.
Instead of building a $7-million to $9-million jail in Lecanto, the county should expand the existing jail at a considerable savings and keep using the county auditorium to house inmates, he says.
How would the county pay for the expansion? "Go back to the departments and find the money to do this. The dollars are there," he said.
While White, the Republican candidate for the District 4 commission seat, is portraying himself as passionately anti-tax, he stops short of saying he will never raise taxes. "Things change," he said.
White, 60, and his Democratic opponent, Almyr Rooks, differ greatly on the issue of growth management. White thinks the county's comprehensive plan, which took away the commercial development potential of many acres, is "pretty much on target."
On the other hand, Rooks, 57, sees the plan as an infringement on property rights. The commercial building ban on parts of U.S. 19 has put many people out of work, he says.
Though some people in the county's environmental movement think he would support the building industry over Mother Nature, Rooks says he is "probably as good" an environmentalist as anyone. After all, he says, he could have turned his ranch into subdivisions long ago if he had so desired.
He owns, either outright or with family members, 2,000 acres in the southeast part of the county. He is president of the Citrus County Cattleman's Association and is a fifth-generation Citrus County resident.
Like White, he worries that taxes are getting excessive. But unlike his opponent, Rooks supports the sales tax increase.
Rooks says he advocates a common-sense approach to government, in which the wisdom of the people would outweigh reports from consultants.
_ VICTORIA WHITE
The five-member County Commission sets tax rates, compiles the annual budget and manages growth in Hernando. The board determines everything from zoning, roads and utilities to the county's airport and library system. Members are elected to four-year terms. The job pays $26,753 a year. Commissioners are required to live within geographic districts but are elected countywide. District 4 covers the general area from Interstate 75 to Spring Hill and from Brooksville south to the Pasco County line.
VERNE SMITH, 51, is a Pensacola native who came to Hernando County in 1969. This is his first campaign for the County Commission. He is in his second term as chairman of the board of the Masaryktown Community Center and thus is honorary mayor of that community. He has attended Pasco-Hernando Community College and Pensacola Junior College. He served six years in the Air Force and was discharged in 1963 with a disability pension. He worked for the county buildings and grounds division from 1985 to 1988. He is married and has three children. ASSETS: Home, property. LIABILITIES: Mortgage, loans, court judgments. INCOME: Veteran's disability pension.
ANTHONY "TONY" MOSCA, 43, is making his second try for a seat on the Hernando County Commission. Since moving to Spring Hill 18 years ago, he has compiled a long record of community service, including membership on the county Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustment and Appeals. In 1988, he led the fight against incorporation of Spring Hill. Mosca owns U-Stor-It Mini Warehouse and a U-Haul dealership in Spring Hill. He has an associate's degree from Tufts New England Medical Center Hospital's School of Respiratory Therapy. He is married and has a daughter. ASSETS: Home, savings, U-Stor-It Mini Warehouse, U-Haul dealership. LIABILITIES: Mortgage, car loans. INCOME: His businesses.