Editor: On at least two occasions, priests from St. Theresa Catholic Church in Spring Hill were prevented by personnel from the Sheriff's Office and the Fire Department from administering the sacrament called the anointing of the sick.
This sacrament is given to Catholics who are seriously ill or near death. It can be administered in less than 30 seconds and is an important part of our religious beliefs. Both occasions were at the scenes of automobile accidents, one involving a fatality.
I am fully aware that control of an emergency scene is always critical and, sometimes, so is speed. However, during at least one of these accidents, emergency personnel were awaiting helicopter transportation for the victim. Surely there was 30 seconds in which a priest would not have been jeopardizing the victim's medical safety.
Is this an example of insensitivity and unprofessionalism or an honest lack of understanding? No matter which, I urge both the Sheriff's Office and Fire Department to review this situation to ensure it does not become standard policy.
Commissioners soaking taxpayers
Editor: It was disheartening, although not unexpected, to watch the shenanigans of some county commissioners at the budget workshop July 24. Listening to the discussion concerning money for the Economic Development Council was like watching a horror movie. Commissioner John Richardson's pompous declaration that the EDC would not accept the contract if it had to pay tourism coordinator Sue Rupe's salary was the epitome of arrogance. The salary of the Tourist Development Council's employee has always been a part of the county's Economic Development Department.
After a demeaning display of bad manners between Richardson and Commissioner June Ester, and a total disregard for the welfare of the taxpayers of this county, the board, with the exception of Commissioner Pat Novy, voted to add a new demand for money to the county's already limited funds. The $60,000 representing the salary for the Tourist Development Council's employee would now be a separate line item to be paid out of the general fund.
The EDC has never presented a mission statement or a plan, or even demonstrated the good faith required of the private sector for a program that, if handled correctly, could only mean more profits for that sector. When it presented its proposed economic development budget on June 25 for $253,780, it noted personnel services as costing $115,080 (director and secretary). Its anticipated revenue was shown as only $9,500. Since its bylaws indicate a Corporate Advisory Membership of $1,000, one would have to assume its own members are not willing to fund this project.
Since the EDC meetings are not published, which would enable private citizens to attend, one most certainly concludes it meets in secret. Why should our tax dollars go to fund a secret organization? How can it be a private-public partnership when one partner refuses to show good faith by contributing an equal amount of money?
We should not fund this EDC. Since our county is destined to be the second-fastest growing one in this sector, with the upcoming transportation corridor, industry will come naturally. Furthermore, Rupe has already brought in about $18-million in new business to this county.
When we consider that four of the commissioners recently voted to give the builders a break and did not raise impact fees, it is unconscionable they think absolutely nothing about the inequity of this action and dump the burden of growth on the present residents who pay property taxes. If one adds what they pay in millage to their ad valorem taxes and special assessments, you will find that some of us pay as much as 22 percent in real estate taxes, not 7.858 percent.
With the exception of Novy, all the sitting commissioners have forgotten who pays their salaries and what their jobs really are.
Our only hope is that, in November, the new commissioners will reopen the matter of impact fees and other budgetary inequities.