Editor: Regarding the June 3 article about the Hernando County Sheriff's Office 9.6 percent budget increase request:
It seems the political mentality of the 1980s still exists in Hernando County: If it's broken, throw money at it.
Well, these are the hard economic times of the '90s, a time when fiscal restraint and responsibility are owed to the taxpayers, and a time for belt tightening and fat reduction. If the sheriff would take two steps back and take an unbiased look at his department, at the administrative level, he would see that through consolidation and streamlining, at the very least, one major, and several captains and lieutenants could be eliminated.
This savings could be pumped back into the budget at the lower echelon of the department, where it is needed, with an addition of at least seven deputies. The additional police presence at the street level would mean quicker response time, an increase in services and the ability to schedule extra deputies to problem areas, be it for selective traffic enforcement, high crime areas, etc. All this could be realized at no cost to the taxpayer.
We're not asking for a wild man with an ax. Just a skilled leader with a sharp pencil and the courage and wisdom to use it.
Stephen J. Triola
Editor: Regarding Sheriff Thomas Mylander's budget request, and plaudits by some approving all that Mylander has done and support for his 9.6 percent increase:
My observations of all of this have encouraged me to make some pragmatic, if not slightly dogmatic, remarks.
In 1988, the sheriff's budget was $7,108,222. For 1993, the budget is $10,065,177, a 41.6 percent increase. If he gets the 9.6 percent increase he is seeking, his budget will be $11,031,433, for a five-year total increase of 55.2 percent.
How much has the interest on your certificates of deposits and individual retirement accounts gone up these past five years? How much has your Social Security and pension check gone up? It is interesting to read that the good sheriff pledges six of 12 new deputies to traffic enforcement if his new budget is approved. How many, if it's not approved?
Does this mean that after pleading with Mylander for several years to do something about speeding traffic on local streets he now recognizes there is a problem? You have to remember that with a 41 percent ($3,000,000) increase in his budget, he has practically ignored traffic enforcement, i.e., speeding on local streets.
One article pointed out 2,717 traffic citations were issued from January through April and 167 traffic accidents were investigated. This type of information is irrelevant. The question is how many citations were for speeding and how much was collected in fines?
Another question: How many traffic accidents were speed-related? The 2,717 traffic citations sound like a lot, but it is only 22.6 per day. With a force of 80 deputies and a two-week campaign checking seat belts, I'll let the readers decide if this is a significant effort at traffic control, especially since it isn't known how many are warnings, such as seat belt violations.
I agree with Mylander that each person driving a car should act responsibly and obey traffic laws. However, when they don't, the top law enforcement officer in the county will have to come to the plate and answer for his long neglect of speeding traffic on local streets.
Finally, I wouldn't approve one dime toward his new budget. If the commissioners feel they should increase his budget, it should only be for the six deputies for traffic control. At least the commissioners can demonstrate they are serious about solving this problem.
Editor: Just a few remarks concerning Sheriff Thomas Mylander's request for a 9.6 percent increase over last year's $10,065,177 budget. He is quoted as saying, "this request is the result of my weighing the increasing demands of the public for service, against the need to conserve tax spending."
Mylander is in charge of a community that has a very low crime rate and a few minor traffic problems. But he is a big-city spender. I believe if he was a police chief of a big city, perhaps like Washington, D.C., where murders occur daily, robberies, and rapes by the minutes, he would ask for a budget compared to the national debt.
This county is so quiet, his deputies are bored to death just driving around in circles, yet he wants more manpower, more supervisors, more undercover officers, another helicopter (he already has two), and he really can't justify one extra penny of the taxpayers' money.
If he really needed more deputies on patrol, he should reorganize his staff and draw from his other two branches of office personnel.
All chiefs act like Mylander until the taxpayers in their jurisdiction get wise to their foolishness and rise up and say enough is enough. Just look what happened in Washington, D.C., and many other cities throughout the country. Their municipal employees, including firefighters and police officers, haven't had a pay raise in four years. There have been layoffs and personnel cutbacks throughout the city, even in the White House.
Everyone in the country's municipal governments seems to have gotten the message to conserve except here in Hernando County. The politicians and their favorite employees all get big pay raises every year, but most of the residents who are retirees are on a fixed income.
If the county commissioners were smart, they would cut Sheriff Mylander's present budget by 10 percent and get in line with the rest of the country. More spending doesn't mean better service; better service is acquired through better brain power.
Attorney General Janet Reno, who is the top cop in the country and ultimately Sheriff Mylander's boss, recently was on C-Span speaking to top echelon Justice Department employees. The most important part of her speech was that tax dollars should be spent smarter, wiser and better.
Share your views
The Hernando Times welcomes letters from readers for publication.
Because of space limitations, letters should be of reasonable length (250-300 words maximum as a rule).
Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.
All letters must be signed and must contain the writer's address and telephone number. Addresses and telephone numbers will not be printed.
Anonymous letters or letters with initials only will not be printed.
Send your letter to Hernando Times, 161 E Jefferson St., Brooksville, FL 34601.