1. Archive

Building possible without damage?

Trail grows cold in our state park, editorial | Nov. 29

Thank you for reminding us of the lack of action at our local state park. I have been following the development of Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park since its inception, and I have much correspondence on the matter.

A $596,000 grant was received for the development of a beach at the Wetstone tract. I have a letter from the state Legislature dated May 11, 2000, confirming this. Should we have an accounting?

I have additional correspondence from the Department of Environmental Protection on Dec. 17, 2002, dismissing the construction of an access road to the beach because of "cost and extensive environmental damage." The department did not conduct any engineering tests or make formal cost estimates. Is it possible that our parks department or the Department of Transportation could build a road without tremendous environmental damage and at a reasonable cost?

Has anything constructive, other than studies, been made to eliminate the environmental problems?

Would the availability of coastal water recreation encourage greater effort to stem the tide of pollution?

Instead of changing fishing laws and bag limits, perhaps cleaning up the waterways and wetlands would allow more fish to reproduce naturally.

Patrick Raimond, Port Richey

Better comp plan to help insurance

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. was created by the Florida Legislature to fill the void when private companies fled the homeowners' insurance market because of catastrophic losses stemming from hurricane and sinkhole losses. Citizens was designated as the insurer of last resort and, to use a metaphor, was portrayed as the cavalry riding to the rescue of the beleaguered homeowner.

That being the case, one would rationally conclude that free market principles no longer governed the sale of policies written by Citizens because it had no competition because of the voluntary withdrawal of the free enterprise carriers from the market and that Citizens would be afforded all of the latitude necessary to write cost-effective policies. Paradoxically, however, Citizens was prevented from doing so because the insurance lobby influenced the Legislature to mandate that Citizens charge higher premiums than the AWOL private carriers would have hypothetically if they had remained in that market. Moreover, Citizens also is required to include the cost of reinsurance in its premiums, which, in reality, it didn't have the remotest intention of purchasing.

To be certain, Citizens doesn't feel the need to buy reinsurance from private companies because, like all public or quasipublic entities, it will merely shift its deficits over to its policyholders in the form of increased premiums in the event that it experiences hurricane and sinkhole losses of the magnitude experienced in 2004 and 2005. And while the special session Jan. 16 seems to be oriented toward repealing the mandate that Citizens charge policyholders for reinsurance, the fact is that the ultimate solution requires more profound analysis and action.

In that respect, a truly meaningful comprehensive plan should encompass more stringent land development measures and building codes. It might also require tax money to subsidize the homeowners of this state under specific instances if the need should arise to prevent large-scale housing losses that would threaten the public health, safety and welfare - and thus consequentially imperil the overall economy of Florida.

Jack B. McPherson, New Port Richey

Insurance crisis undermines state, guest column | Dec. 5

If leader had guts, he'd tell the truth

One couldn't help but notice that this was written by a typical Tallahassee politician who is now out of touch with his constituents. The part that is most disturbing is when Sen. Mike Fasano states that the insurance lobby "managed to sneak language into the bill." If Fasano had any guts, he'd state the truth that most people are already aware of: Lobbyists don't write bills; Fasano's colleagues do. If Fasano had any guts, he'd reveal which one of his esteemed colleagues was responsible for "sneaking" that language into that bill. At least that way, the people who are going broke trying to pay for insurance would have the pleasure of knowing who they should tar and feather.

Lobbyists are not effective without the backing of politicians. If Fasano really wants to stand up for the people, he'd have the guts to make a final stand in his remaining time in Tallahassee and call out the politicians who refuse to fix the problem and instead side with the insurance lobby. Unfortunately, we don't have anyone in Tallahassee willing to go to the mat for the people who elected them. This problem didn't start yesterday. It has festered for years, and we continue to hear nothing but talk without a viable, sustainable plan.

Scott Factor, New Port Richey

Why do residents pay for paving?

Well, Pasco has issued letters to residents advising that paving will be done on certain streets around the county. Okay, that has to be done someplace year after year. But the practice of billing residents for the job is wrong.

This county supported the Penny for Pasco and related how much the tax would help the county pay for its services. Now the county comes after your money anyway.

As I understand it, a developer will build a subdivision and in the process build the roads and plant the streetlights, fire hydrants, and, in some areas, the sidewalks. When we bought our lot, we paid not only the cost for the land but also the roads, and any other items mentioned. Then after most of the lots have been sold, the developer dedicates the roads to the county and moves on to his next project.

So if the roads are given to the county, why are we being charged by the county to repave them? We all have to pay for them twice? Don't let the county tell you that if the roads are to be paved, we must pay for them. The county has more than enough money to do this job.

If the county wants to build a fund to pay for roads and bridges, then why not issue a vehicle tax tag for, say, $15 or $20 each year? Cars would be charged the lowest, and trucks and large vehicles could be charged upward to $200.

It's a crime to tax and tax us, and then when a government job needs to be done, demand even more money. There are better ways to do the job, and I think our board members need to look for them.

James W. Coakley, New Port Richey

Editor's note: Penny for Pasco dollars do not pay for residential street pavings. The county's paving assessment program charges each property owner within a neighborhood a set amount to cover the cost of repaving the subdivision's streets.