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THE REFERENDUMS FOR PARKS AND RECREATION TAX

Proposition 1 will ask Hernando voters to approve a new tax to pay for an expanded park system. The proposed tax is 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value, which would amount to $25 for the owner of a $75,000 home with the homestead exemption.

The issue, one of two youth-oriented referendums on the ballot, has caused some resentment among Spring Hill senior citizens who don't think they will benefit from the tax.

Proponents of the program, however, say it is a good investment. If money isn't spent now to give young people places to go, they say, even more will have to be spent later on law enforcement and the court system.

The tax would be in effect for 10 years.The referendum also would give the county authority to use the money to issue bonds. At current property values, the tax would raise nearly $1.5-million a year.

A proposal calls for building a $3-million-plus athletic complex on the east side of Spring Hill, expanding Stringer Hill Park on U.S. 98 north of Brooksville and building a park in the Ridge Manor area.

The county's comprehensive plan calls for the county to expand its parks program fivefold by 1998. If that requirement isn't met, it could trigger a state-imposed building moratorium in the county.

_ KEN ZAPINSKI

SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICTS

Propositions 2 and 3 will give Hernando County voters the chance to change fundamentally the way they elect their government officials.

Currently, officials are elected through an at-large system. County commissioners and School Board members must live in the districts they represent but are elected by voters countywide. For example, voters in Ridge Manor help choose who will represent Hernando Beach, and vice versa.

The referendums would institute a single-member district system. With district voting, only voters in the immediate area would elect their representatives to the two boards.

Proponents of single-member districts say this would make candidates more accountable to the people they represent. They also say it would make running for office much less expensive so candidates won't be indebted to developers, real-estate agents and others who finance their campaigns.

Opponents cite, however, that residents would lose 80 percent of their vote. With single-member districts, residents would be able to vote on one of the five commission seats and one of the five School Board seats. Each official makes decisions that affect every county resident, opponents say, so they should be accountable to every resident.

The measures were forced onto the ballot by a bipartisan group that collected about 15,000 petition signatures. Many Democrats favor the change; the county Republican Executive Committee opposes it.

_ KEN ZAPINSKI

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