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Candidate's brochure enlivens Largo race

(ran LA edition)

Commission candidate Kim Deguise said one of her supporters is responsible for a questionable statement in a campaign brochure.

Deguise is challenging longtime incumbent Jean Halvorsen for commission Seat 4 in Tuesday's city election.

Deguise said the statement, that the city will need to raise taxes 47.51 percent during the next four years to meet expenses, was written without her input.

"I'm sorry it's in there," said Deguise, 29, who is winding up her first campaign for public office.

Deguise, a private school secretary, said one of her supporters, Largo business owner Patrick Aland, drafted the brochure. By the time she reviewed the content, Deguise said, it was too late to make changes. Ten thousand copies of the brochure have been printed, Deguise said.

Aland, publisher of a weekly newspaper, Bay Area Views, denied the brochures were printed without Deguise's approval.

"I wouldn't print something a candidate didn't see," Aland said. However, Aland did stand by the content of the brochure, including the statement about the proposed tax increase.

Kim Adams, the city's finance director, said no such tax increase is planned.

According to Adams, the city's five-year plan of proposed capital improvements, "which is very tentative and subject to change" he said, suggests a 30 percent increase could be necessary within a four-year period.

But, Adams noted, the commission would have to approve any tax increase, and none has been proposed.

The last time taxes went up in Largo was in 1991. At the time, the commission approved an increase of 5.6 percent.

Halvorsen, a retired stenographer, said it's too soon to say if a tax increase will be necessary next year. Halvorsen, who was on the commission in 1991, said the tax increase approved then was necessary.

"From time to time, you have to have them," Halvorsen said.

Neither Halvorsen nor Deguise said they would favor raising taxes to pay the entire cost for road improvements in the city.

Currently, residents who live on roads that are to be improved pay one-third to two-thirds of the repaving cost. Deguise has said the city should find a way to pay the entire amount. However, she has not said where the money should come from.

Several Times readers have said that whichever candidate wins on Tuesday, a high-priority item should be repairs to 20th Street SW.

The street "is Largo's worst road," wrote Times reader John Degel. "It is downright unsafe. Why don't we repair it?"

Although Degel intended for the candidates to respond to this question, it seemed more appropriate for Public Works Director Chris Kubala to answer.

According to Kubala, repairs to 20th Street are in the works. Construction work, between West Bay Drive and Eighth Avenue, should begin within three months, he said. Residents who live along the corridor will be assessed a small part of the cost.

EDITOR'S NOTE

The Times asked readers to help guide our Largo election coverage by submitting questions for the candidates in this year's race for Commission Seat 4. Several readers were concerned about a possible tax increase. Others were concerned about the condition of a road, Twentieth Street. The election is Tuesday.

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