1. Archive

Fairness is the issue in property tax fight

Published Oct. 6, 2005

Editor: There have been a couple of letters to the editor recently critical of Timber Pines residents' fight against discriminatory property taxation, specifically the letter printed March 1 from Dorothy Hanson Pell. She purports to be embarrassed by her fellow residents, but her embarrassment should, in truth, emanate from her ignorance of the issues.

While there are several issues involved, the overwhelming problem is one of equity throughout the county. No one _ read my lips _ no one would object to their property valuation if those valuations were derived in the same manner throughout the county, whether the method uniformly applied were the standard cost method (used throughout the county by Property Appraiser Les Samples) or the fair market value (never used heretofore by Mr. Samples, and used by him this year only with respect to Timber Pines).

The two methods result in a grossly disproportionate tax when the same levy is applied to the grossly disparate valuations. The method, applied to Timber Pines only, created fictitious and unexplainable differences in valuations of $30,000 to $50,000 on our street, which translates into $600 to $1,000 of additional, discriminatory tax.

The residents of Timber Pines have every right and duty to call themselves the Hernando Taxpayers Association. The other residents of Hernando County should be thankful that Timber Pines residents have the time and determination to attempt to prevent similar injustices in the rest of Hernando County whenever Mr. Samples' whim may dictate.

Perhaps Mrs. Pell and others outside Timber Pines could better understand the basic principle by imagining they live on Salter Street east of Mariner and their assessment was arbitrarily and capriciously increased by $30,000 or $50,000, compared to identical houses on Sagmore, the next street over. Any sensible person who understood the basic principles of property taxation would object vociferously, as they should.

I found it appropriate that on the same page, above Mrs. Pell's letter, the Hernando Times had a scathing and very appropriate editorial criticizing the arbitrary and capricious action of HRS in the outrageous Bellamy case. Timber Pines residents can empathize completely with the concluding quote, "The bottom line is that each of us is only one good liar away from being where Bill Bellamy found himself."

Vern Andrews, Spring Hill

Much ado about absolutely nothing

Editor: What's all the fuss about Commissioner John Richardson being hit over the head?

If it were you or I, we wouldn't make the last page (of the newspaper).

What's done is done. So let's put it to sleep.

Clem Johnson, Spring Hill

Ethics code won't hurt the honest

Editor: At the County Commission's ethics workshop Feb. 18, Hal Robinson, director of the Chamber of Commerce, said he was bored with the proceedings, then followed with a vicious attack against Commissioner Pat Novy. He demanded an example of ethics violations by the commissioners and stated, "If it ain't broken don't fix it."

How do we know if it isn't broken?

I have my own suspicions of wrongdoing. For example, why are water rates for residents higher than commercial rates? Why do single-family residences pay a $55 waste-disposal assessment and multifamily apartments, condominiums, and townhouses pay only $50.05?

Why were the Northwest Fire District homeowners' rates raised 34 percent and the commercial rate lowered from 10 cents per square foot to 8 cents per square foot?

Could it be because somebody successfully lobbied someone in our government? Who knows, maybe the director of the Chamber of Commerce was the lobbyist. I don't know the answer. However, if the code of ethics proposed by Commissioner Novy were in place, I would easily find out by simply checking the lobbyist registration record.

I find it hard to believe that any honest politician would oppose a county code of ethics. If Commissioner Novy is comfortable with a county code of ethics, what are the other four commissioners afraid of?

John R. Tenini, Brooksville