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Murky gasoline tax issues need to be clarified

Editor: A recent Hernando Times article concerned passage of the 1-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax increase. After reviewing the promotional pamphlet from the Public Works Department and listening to the architect of this tax, we are being asked to vote on a referendum of misinformation, disinformation or deceit.

For instance, the second section of the pamphlet states "shall Hernando County be authorized to levy an additional 1-cent tax on each gallon of motor fuel and special fuel (airplane fuel not mentioned) sold in Hernando County for the purpose of resurfacing previously paved local streets?" The theme of resurfacing and rehabilitating local roads is repeated throughout this brochure. The sample ballot wording repeats this theme.

However, at a recent Board of County Commissioners meeting it was stated the revenues from this tax could be used to pay the interest on a bond issue. This message was repeated at the last Hernando County Coalition meeting.

Which statement is correct? If these revenues are to be used as stated in the pamphlet, then the issue should be on the ballot. If they are to be used for bond debts or for any other purpose than the referendum, then it is invalid and should be removed from the ballot.

After the fiasco of recent "bond issues," particularly the very questionable and very lucrative dispersion of monies realized, we should walk long, carefully and wisely through the process.

The pamphlet states that the commissioners will be the final stamp on what roads will be attended to. At a recent commission meeting, those in attendance elicited a commitment from the commissioners and publics works manager that a list of those roads/streets to be treated would be made public before election day. Most agreed this would enable the voter to make a more informed choice. On this point, there appears to be some backtracking.

The projected cost for this project is not stated, but the projected revenue annually is about $500,000. To a non-engineer, 25 to 30 miles of road repair would seem to cost far in excess of projected revenues. The brochure also refers to repairs that will take place "within their respective jurisdictions." Could this also mean "districts," as in commissioners' districts?

Unless there is absolute clarity on how these revenues are to be spent, where they will be spent and a clarification on what constitutes a subdivision, this referendum can be best described as muddy and murky.

Joe Fox

Spring Hill

Hernando free of U.S. 19 sign clutter

Editor: As a newcomer to Spring Hill, I cannot help but notice something that longtime residents may have overlooked.

Pasco County looks as if the billboard makers cleaned out the closets and dumped all their leftovers on U.S. 19. Just driving past the jumble of signs makes my eyes sore.

In contrast, Hernando County's part of U.S. 19 looks clean, green and relatively free of sign clutter. Congratulations to the zoning board, the county commissioners, the Spring Hill Civic Association or whoever deserves the credit.

Such good planning cannot be an accident.

Adam Butcher

Spring Hill

Local health care too high

Editor: This is to supplement the letter of Ms. Hoover published Oct. 2 regarding excessively high hospital bills.

Ms. Hoover incurred a charge of almost $2,500 for a half-day confinement at Spring Hill Regional Hospital, where she underwent a colonoscopy, which amount her insurance carrier refused to pay.

Presumably, this did not include the separate bill of her doctor. About two years ago my wife had the same procedure at Oak Hill Hospital. She, too, was there for less than one-half day, and our total bills also approximated $2,500.

The unfortunate truth is that the foregoing are not rare exceptions. Indeed, they are typical examples of the excessively high and unnecessary cost of health care in Hernando County, in large part due to the refusal and/or professional inability of Hernando County doctors to perform colonoscopies and other routine procedures and examinations in their offices.

By way of sharp contrast, two months ago my wife had another colonoscopy performed by an eminent gastroenterologist in his offices in New York. The total bill was $975, about one-third the cost for the same procedure here in Hernando County, simply by eliminating the unnecessary additional cost of hospital confinement.

Because of the lack of such cost containment practices by health care providers here, and the resultant high costs of medical treatment, many insurance companies have wholly withdrawn from issuing health policies in Florida. Indeed, an out-of-state insurer quoted us an annual premium of $10,000 " .

.

. because of the unusually high cost of medical care where you live." Consequently, health insurance practically is impossible to get here without every prior ailment being excluded from coverage. And, where obtainable, the premiums are prohibitive and, thereafter, as Ms. Hoover stated, claims are denied as "not customary."

It's about time that our local doctors and hospitals realized that most of the residents of Hernando County are retirees on fixed incomes, low hourly wage employees, or unemployed persons, and that the vast majority of us neither can afford their services nor obtain adequate insurance coverage to pay for them.

Edward Daus

Spring Hill

There's more to culture than chickens

Editor: I was very interested in the Times' "Suncoast Almanac," and eagerly read what was written about Hernando County, where we decided to relocate a little while ago.

I was appalled to read the only interesting activity worth mentioning by you, besides the Brooksville Raid, was the Chicken Pluckin' contest! What about the fact that Hernando County is the home of the Hernando Symphony Orchestra, Stage West Theater group, Nature Coast Light Opera, Springstead Theater concert series and other cultural activities?

The people who are repulsed by the idea of chicken plucking will be relieved to know that there is something for them here. But put it in the paper; don't hide those facts. Especially remember that there is a vast variety of people here in west Hernando, so make sure you mention a variety of activities.

If I had read that page last year, I would have run away from here.

Charlotte Murrin

Spring Hill

We don't need a 13th park

Editor: Regarding the Oct. 3 Hernando Times article concerning a donation of 22 acres of land to Hernando County by the Spring Hill Civic Association for the purpose of developing a park the county's 13th park.

Just what we need, another park! The cost of development will rest on the County Commission to spend our receding tax dollars to do so. Based on the article, this undertaking will be for a "passive park" with no amenities or facilities for the young children and teenagers to enjoy. If I recall, the word passive means not participating actively. To expend an estimated half-million dollars for such a droll need seems a bit ludicrous to say the least.

What a coincidence that the 22 acres are located behind the SHCA headquarters. It would appear that it would be one way for land to be cleared for the beautification of SHCA headquarters at the expense of our tax dollars.

When a vote was taken by the membership, some 681 members, 81 of them voted against the proposal. I am sure that I and others in this community would be inquisitive enough to hear some of the reasons that this large number felt that this proposal should not become a reality. The SHCA is attempting to put their park request on the agenda of the commission. It would behoove some of the 81 members to write the commission citing their objections and submit a letter to the Hernando Times for all to read. Therefore, it is important that our commissioners give this SHCA proposal much though before expending tax dollars for a project that has not true necessity or a dire need for Spring Hill residents.

I assume that all needs for improvement within the county to include expenditures of funds are prioritized. As such, the need for a thirteenth park should not appear on the agenda. If funds should become available, i.e., a half-million dollars, consideration should first be given to our indigent whose needs certainly should take precedence over developing another park.

A factor that deserves additional consideration is the yearly cost of upkeep. Add the estimated cost the present 12 parks and give that some thought when it comes to stiff cutbacks already present in the county budget.

Bob Haley

Spring Hill

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