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Tourist tax is right for the county, consumers

Editor: This letter is in response to a letter to the editor from Paul Krupit, general manager of the Holiday Inn, Brooksville, opposing the proposed Tourist Development Tax (County Proposition 2). I am also responding to remarks by Mr. Krupit quoted in a news story you published on Saturday, Sept. 26, regarding the proposed Tourist Development Tax.

I enthusiastically support the proposed Tourist Development Tax for two good, simple reasons. First, the tax is one of the few optional taxes state law permits a county to pass which does not fall upon the shoulders of local property owners or local consumers. The tax is simply 2 percent added to the bills of visitors who spend a night in a local motel or campground. Unless a local resident sleeps around a lot in local motels, he or she will never contribute a dime to this tax.

Second, if approved, the tax will provide Hernando County with some revenue to do some things which we cannot afford to do from property tax revenues. It will enable Hernando County to better market itself for economic development and, down the road, provide a source of revenue to help protect and maintain some of our most endangered natural assets such as the Weeki Wachee and Withlacoochee Rivers.

Mr. Krupit makes reference to a recent study conducted by a committee of the state Legislature regarding the abuse of tourist tax revenues in some counties. He does not point out that the study was part of an effort to get certain urban counties to use their tourist tax revenues more effectively to help promote Florida's most important industry, which is tourism.

Nor does Mr. Krupit point out that the tax proposed for Hernando County as "County Proposition 2" on November's ballot includes a commission-approved, two-year budget for expenditure of the revenue which conforms absolutely to state guidelines for the tax. The revenues from this tax, if approved, will be used according to the following formula: 70 percent for promoting and marketing the hospitality industry in Hernando County; 20 percent for managing tourist-related infrastructure, and 10 percent for the local collection and administration of the revenues.

Mr. Krupit has also been quoted as saying he is speaking for "out of county" taxpayers. In response, I would simply point out that most Hernando County residents pay a Tourist Development Tax, often higher than 2 percent, in other counties when we travel. Our own tax will simply help Hernando County balance the books and compete with the others for the tourist dollar.

I welcome the opportunity to debate Mr. Krupit on this important proposal. In his opposition, Mr. Krupit has focused on the issues, and I appreciate that. Between us, I believe Hernando County voters will be able to make an intelligent decision in November and will vote to approve a 2 percent Tourist Development Tax for Hernando County.

Hal Robinson, chairman

Hernando County Tourist Development Council

Direct the blame somewhere else

Editor: I am writing in response to an article written in your paper Saturday, Sept. 19, by Donna Cusker.

Yes, indeed, our commissioner did win by one vote, but are you aware that the district commissioner was present and ran the annual general meeting and also counted the votes? Also, the present commissioner does indeed have a child who does play in our league and has done so for the past two years and will play and is registered again this year.

The board and department heads have discussed the merger of both leagues after the first of the year. Hopefully now, both commissioners will be able to sit down and come to agreement. Aside from open board meetings, which are held every month during soccer season, there are meetings held for the board and department heads during summer months to plan the new year's events which will, as they have in the past and again this year, start in November.

Also, it should be noted that all coaches and parents are notified of open meetings and the annual general meeting by telephone and signs which are posted every week at Delta Woods Park during the season. There is also a sign-up sheet at every meeting, where your name does not seem to appear. It is not the board who asked that the parents first drop the children off and not participate. Maybe your question should be directed to them.

Donna M. Steiner

Spring Hill

Just the facts about the league

Editor: By writing this response to Donna Cusker's letter of Sept. 19, we, as the board of directors of the First Hernando Youth Soccer League Inc., do not intend to get into a writing contest with anyone. However, the following facts, for some reason, failed to appear in her letter.

1. This league was incorporated in 1987, and it has been in the past year, the 1991-92 soccer season, that board meetings were held monthly at J.

D. Floyd Elementary School and were open to all members.

2. This board is the first board operating with an "open book" policy, to which bylaws, rules and regulations, minutes and checking accounts were presented.

3. This board did not allow the corporation to be involuntary dissolved because annual paperwork, as required by the state of Florida, cost the league reinstatement fees.

4. Unlike previous years, all board members are given a note on all issues concerning expenditures and league policy.

5. It is in the best interest of the league to have all board positions filled and pursuant to Florida Youth Soccer Association bylaws, the commissioner may fill a vacant position on the board through appointment.

6. This board has filed federal taxes on a timely basis and has not caused fines and back taxes to be incurred, as in previous years' expenditures.

In all due respect, we believe Ms. Cusker is citing prejudices toward personalities and omitting facts, like the aforementioned, that would suggest a contrary conclusion.

First Hernando Youth Soccer League

Board of Directors

Spring Hill

Here's what you can do for your park

Editor: To the Spring Hill Civic Association:

All you have to do is each member (1,686) pitch in $294, then you will have your park.

After you have it built, turn it over to the county for maintenance.

When you build a park, make sure that everyone in the county has use of it.

William A. Foster

Spring Hill

Voters will decide what's fact, fiction

Editor: This is in reply to Scott Edmisten's letter of Sept. 26. His missive is yet another instance of blatant distortion of the facts by Spring Hill Fire and Rescue.

1. For him to state that SHFR will be destroyed by voting no on the November referendum borders on the fringe of fantasy and is utterly without merit. Mr. Edmisten, I'm afraid that it is you who are distorting the truth and trying desperately to confuse the voters to opt for permanent independence for SHFR.

2. You most assuredly knew when you sent this letter to the press that there is no possibility for any SHFR equipment or personnel to be sent to other sections of Hernando County at the expense of the residents of Spring Hill whose taxes underwrite your department. Had you referred to Ordinance No. 73-12 (which in essence, I believe, you knew all about), you would clearly see that this document prevents any equipment and/or personnel from being transferred to other sections outside SHFR jurisdiction. Only a referendum vote by the people of Spring Hill could make this become a possibility and, therefore, this distortion should be laid to rest once and for all.

3. The voters of Spring Hill who do not want independence for SHFR are not concerned about our equipment being commandeered by other sections of the county, but we are considerably worried about any governmental agency collecting our tax dollars without any supervision of restraint by the county. There must be checks and balances and these are the fundamental reasons for voting against independence.

4. Innuendoes about an "unnamed" commissioner stated "that half the people in SHFR will be fired, the ambulances given to Florida Regional and tax money used to fund a countywide fire department" are scare tactics of the lowest order and misses the mark of truthfulness by a wide margin.

Surely, Mr. Edmisten, under the existing 73-12 Ordinance, you must in conscience be aware that the letter you sent was a complete fabrication and distortion of the facts. An informed voter will decide on which is fact and what is fiction and your letter deserves an Academy Award for the latter.

Edward J. Heckler

Spring Hill

Grand jurors did their job

Editor: Your editorial of Sept. 23, criticizing the Hernando County grand jury's recommendation to Gov. Chiles (that Ms. Cooper and Ms. Rowden be suspended from the School Board), underestimates the lawful responsibilities of the grand jury and unjustifiably demeans the integrity and intelligence of its citizen-jurors.

For centuries the grand jury has been set in the English Common Law, and subsequently in American jurisprudence, as the instrument of the sovereign to make dispassionate inquiry into the welfare and benefit of the community. This responsibility includes both the indictment of triable offenses and the recommended resolution of public concerns. The random selection of at least 15 qualified citizens to serve as grand jurors assures the impartiality of the decisions of the body once constituted.

Thus empaneled by the court, the Hernando County grand jury listened to the testimony of witnesses and reviewed documentary evidence, both of its choosing, and acted in accord with their findings of fact and with the law. The jury did not simply listen to ".

.

. a possibly overzealous state attorney," as your editorial suggests.

Without breaking the statutorily mandated confidence of the jury's proceedings, I can tell you that in making its recommendation to the governor it was not the intention or desire of the jury ".

.

. that defendants be punished before they receive their day in court." Rather, it appeared to me the jury perceived the need to assure public confidence in the school system on the very eve of the opening of another school year.

I can understand your concern that the grand jury act within the facts and the law. I can understand the governor's perspective in rejecting the jury's recommendation. What I cannot understand is your presumption that the jury was either irresponsible enough to exceed the bounds of its conscience, or foolish enough to be beguiled by the state attorney, even if I had attempted to do so.

The grand jury, like every other jury, is comprised of registered voters of Hernando County. Unlike petit jurors, grand jurors are not usually subjected to protracted inquiries into their backgrounds and personal opinions. In virtually every case, the grand jury is comprised of the first 18 names drawn, at random, from the group of potential jurors.

I, or any of my assistants, would have no more ability to convince the group of citizens comprising the Hernando County grand jury to do something they did not choose to do than I would 15 to 18 members of your newspaper's staff.

In fairness to the jurors, individually and as a body, I think you should reconsider your criticism.

As to the matter of Mr. Winkler's contract, I quite agree the public needs to know, as soon as possible, if it is a lawful and binding agreement. The grand jury found the contract to have been generated "outside the Sunshine," and requested me to attempt to void the agreement. My staff has been working to determine if the subsequent ratification by the school board "in the Sunshine" gives legal life to the contract. I shall report my resolution of this legal issue directly.

Brad King, state attorney

5th Judicial Circuit of Florida

Ocala

Maybe that flu shot won't cost you

Editor: My husband and I recently received flu shots at the Pinebrook Walk-In Clinic. I inquired whether they submitted the cost to Medicare. The woman at the window said I must pay now and, no, they did not submit because Medicare will not pay for it.

I paid for both of us, then came home and called my supplemental insurer to inquire if they will pay and was informed I had to get a refusal from Medicare and send it to them. Then I called Medicare and after talking to two different people was told, yes, they do have to send a claim in to Medicare, even though I paid. They will pay.

Perhaps it will be a good idea for everyone who receives their shots at the clinic to inquire about this. Twenty dollars is very dear to us elderly.

Karla Roth

Spring Hill

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