Editor: In the beginning there was much talk about the East Lake area needing its own library. To my best recollection, the group was referring to itself as "Friends of the Library" or something similar. Then all of a sudden it was "Friends of Library/Recreation." I would read all the reasons why we need another library in North Pinellas on one day, and then the next day how we needed to finance the sports complex on Old Keystone Road.
It finally became apparent to me that the recreation referendum was attempting to ride the coattails of the library vote.
Everyone at a recent forum who supports the tax was very eager to impress that the combined passage of both referendums would replace the 0.5 mill county library assessment. What they don't want to discuss is that if the library referendum is voted down by East Lake voters for the third time in three elections and some sympathetic souls feel we should finance a sports complex (which wasn't even voted into existence) and pass the recreation referendum, then our tax rate will increase to 0.75 mills. That's because we will still pay the 0.5 mill county library assessment plus we will add the 0.25 mill recreation assessment.
As I pointed out to the people at the forum, my wife and I decided to move into the Woodfield development because it was in an area without high taxes.
We have raised our eight dependents and decided it was time to let somebody buy our old house to raise their kids in a high-service (high-tax) neighborhood.
We owe thanks to our real estate agent for showing us that East Lake met our needs, and in five minutes we could be in the well-equipped Tarpon Springs Library.
Apparently some of the forum attendees purchased their homes at 4 a.m. on Christmas Day since they were so shocked to discover that East Lake didn't have the same features as Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
I decided to drive 28 miles each way to work in order to keep from paying for those necessities of child-rearing years, and I think most of the people living in East Lake feel the same way.
Most of these people (tax proponents) don't care about having a library or sports complex nearby. They want to be the founding fathers or mothers of the newest metropolis on the Gulf Coast.
Granted, some of the younger parents living in the area have a valid interest in their children. But they made the mistake of moving into an area full of middle-age or retired people without looking into the availability of services. That's why those things like schools and libraries are listed on real estate listings.
Charles Dedman, East Lake
Referendum is first step
toward local control
Editor: When my husband and I moved here (to East Lake) one year ago, we were amazed to find no free library and no publicly funded recreation nearby.
We are over 55, have five children and 11 grandchildren, none of them living in this area. However, we firmly believe that most people our age do care very much what happens in their community and are committed to working with their neighbors of all ages to make that community a desirable and progressive place to live.
Therefore, instead of complaining about the lack of a library and recreation, we joined the Friends of East Lake Tarpon Library/Recreation to help do something about the situation. This group is made up of volunteers of many ages who want to make life better for all of us in the East Lake area.
One has only to look at the many new roads and buildings going in to see that we need to get control of our area's future now before someone else does. The library and recreation referendums are a start toward this.
I ask all of you new families and fair-minded older ones to get out and vote Tuesday to gain local control of East Lake's future. The chance may not come again!
Katharine W. Bursnall,
Residents could pay
extra for use of library
Editor: The citizens of the East Lake Tarpon Fire Control District will be asked to vote on a referendum that states:
"A tax for the purpose of funding recreational facilities, services, programs and related land acquisitions" and also "for the purpose of funding a public library facility and related land acquisitions which shall be used for library and other related community services in place of the one-half mill authorized previously for the purpose of providing free access to library services in existing facilities."
Until a facility is built, stocked and staffed, the residents of East Lake will have no continuing library service from the present cooperative unless each family pays a $100 per year fee. This is in addition to the tax collected for a new facility. Is this more service for less money?
Betty Lou Paul, East Lake
Editor's note: East Lake would have two options for paying for continued use of cooperative libraries. Each household that wanted to use those libraries could pay $100, or the East Lake district could use part of the revenue from its 0.25mill tax to pay the cooperative fee.
Referendum is about
Editor: Our purpose in having two referendums placed on the ballot is so that the people in the East Lake Tarpon Fire Control District might have a say in how their tax dollars are spent. None of us would willingly hand over our personal money to someone else to make decisions for us and spend our money without at least some of our own input.
It is time that this community banded together to try to make available to its citizens some facilities and services it needs. Library and recreational opportunities certainly meet this criteria. I, for one, am not happy to sit back and simply take from the county library system.
What we need here is community spirit. A community in which we ask not what our county can do for us but what we can do for our community and our county.
We are not seeking more tax dollars. We are asking for a return of our tax dollars so that we can, as a community, have our own facilities and, in turn, share those with other members of other communities by remaining a part of the county library system.
Dee Garvey, East Lake
Supporting tax means
local dollars stay put
Editor: The library and recreation referendums facing the East Lake voters are not complex issues or questions.
The question simply is do the East Lake taxpayers want to continue to pay a tax to Pinellas County to be spent in areas other than East Lake, or do the East Lake taxpayers want to replace that tax with an equal amount of tax that can only be spent in East Lake?
A yes vote really means, "Yes, spend the money in East Lake." It's the only sensible choice.
Jerry L. Koenig, East Lake
Support experience for
Palm Harbor fire board
Editor: The following is an open letter to the residents of Palm Harbor.
I am writing to encourage everyone to please get out and vote on Tuesday. One election I am concerned with is the Palm Harbor Fire Commission election. There are two seats up for election with the incumbents seeking re-election.
The reason I am concerned, being a resident of Palm Harbor, is the way these commissioners are handling their job, the district's money and, most important, the firefighters.
Ninety percent of the current commissioners have no idea what the day-to-day operations of the department are. They have no idea what is protocol and why. This was evident at past town meetings held at the department. When asked questions about the district or department, their response was, "I don't know." One would think that you would investigate your job to know all about it.
Our tax base is one of the largest in the county. Yet our firefighters, the backbone of the department, are among the lowest paid. Only Belleair Bluffs is lower.
We need people who are prepared to work at this very important job. People who have a background that would enhance the job of fire commissioner. People like Jay Campbell and Irene Rauch.
I encourage all people to get out and vote. But please consider your vote very carefully when voting for fire commissioner. It is our only local governing body in Palm Harbor.
Mary Roberts, Palm Harbor