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Published Jul. 31, 2007

Here we go again. Another tax hike. I feel that Hernando County Fire Rescue can figure out ways other than raising taxes.

After doing research HCFR pays out six positions of overtime a day. Do the math, average day of overtime is $600 times those six positions, which equals $3,600 per day. Multiply that by 365 days and there is more than $1-million a year. The county took over the Township 22 Fire District for the tax money and put a station in Brooksville. Why is there a station a block away from another station? And the one station is not even a station. Trucks are parked outside and the building is not even livable.

Then they pull the threat of closing Station 23. (The new station they built in 2005.) The one they need to close would be the one in the city, and disperse those personnel to other stations. I understand they are separate departments, but come on! Where else do you see two fire stations that close together? Last time I checked they both provide the same service and go through the same training. Where I live it would take at least a 10-minute response time from Stations 21, 23 and 24, if they are even available. If not, then I would not know what station was coming.

They have available resources around them (Brooksville, Spring Hill, Hernando Beach, High Point) but it seems they are too proud to ask for help until it's too late. I think if my house is on fire I don't care who is coming, as long as someone puts it out.

I hope they come to their senses and figure out that next year we will not need another tax hike. If so, I would think they could provide a better service.

Ron Harmmon, Brooksville

Colleges need real money fix

In the face of recent state budget cuts to higher education, our 28 community colleges have resolved to maintain an open door for enrollment of students. While many public universities have elected to cap enrollments in response to reduced state funding, the Florida Community College Council of Presidents is united in its determination to maintain access for all eligible students and open the door even wider for students who may be turned away from our neighboring universities. As a student-first institution, this commitment to an open door constitutes one of our primary missions.

Our goals cannot be accomplished without financial hardship to our institutions. Our colleges are being forced to rely on nonrecurring funds to make up for this year's shortfall. Plans for enhanced support programs and other student services have been put on hold to avert this year's financial crisis. However, this funding solution can sustain us in the short term only. It is our hope that the state's economic shortfalls are temporary and that the governor and Legislature will seek to restore and enhance funding to all of our public institutions of higher education as soon as possible, recognizing the economic and social value that we provide to Florida and its citizens.

Katherine Johnson, president

Pasco-Hernando Community College

Re: Revise zoning rules July 26 letter to the editor

Growth is here, so let's reap benefits

This is 2007! Revise the rules to protect us from what? I think the Hernando County Board of Commissioners, when it comes to the County Line Road development and a proposed Wal-Mart, will provide residents in this area with progress, convenience and the innovations and modernization for today and the future. The tax base from Wal-Mart will help now and in the future.

It's time the residents opposing Wal-Mart and future growth get their heads out of the sand. If, in the future, retail developers decide to build on the south side of County Line Road, Pasco County will reap the benefits and Hernando County residents will still be complaining and reap no benefits from Wal-Mart or anyone else.

This letter is not about greed; it's about progress, convenience and the benefits to the tax base.

Ralph Emmerich, Spring Hill