The voters have spoken. I wonder if they realize the consequences. Amendment 1 doesn't offer much relief but it does mean that St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and the Juvenile Welfare Board will be scrambling to cut budgets. JWB alone will lose nearly $5-million that goes to help families.
What effect will the voters' decision have? There will be a reduction in services. The easiest programs to cut are those that help poor people, children and people in dangerous situations like domestic violence. There will be less police protection. About a third of all calls police receive are related to domestic violence. There will be fewer firefighters. Domestic abusers burn down houses and take the lives of women and children.
There will be fewer services from CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse). We receive about a million dollars in grants from the city, county and JWB combined, a third of our budget. Are you ready to privately and consistently contribute your tax savings to keep our shelter, visitation center, legal advocacy and Peacemakers programs open? That is what it takes to keep our services intact.
We are already lean and depend on volunteers to help, but we must pay staff to work the weekends and nights and holidays when our volunteers are sleeping and playing with their families.
All families should count on a good night's sleep and time to play together. That is impossible living with domestic violence. Does anyone care about the women, children and men who need CASA's services?
Linda Osmundson, executive director, CASA, St. Petersburg
Property tax relief willbe good for the economy
The passage of Amendment 1 by the voters will provide positive short- and long-term results for the local and state economy resulting in increased spending, collection of fees and increased taxes flowing into the respective budgets.
While saving the average homeowner $240 on property taxes doesn't sound like much, it sends a clear message to local and state governments that will require them to tighten their budgets, increase efficiency, and be more accountable about how these monies are spent. That is the short-term result.
The more important, long-term result will be the catalytic effect it will provide to stimulate the housing market, which affects all other sectors of the economy. If houses aren't being built, sold or bought, many workers involved suffer. Check any of the big-box stores lately and it is obvious that spending is way down. Every time a house is built, many workers benefit from the task - from the framer to the salesperson, to the advertising sector, banking and finance companies to name a few. They will all pay back some of their incomes to taxes, fees for licenses, and they will be able to spend more on groceries, clothing, cars, boats and vacations. You get the idea.
There will not be layoffs of police, firefighters or teachers. That argument is a failed tactic by small-minded local politicians and organized labor.
Frank Kregler, Tarpon Springs
We will pay in the end
Among all the brouhaha about Amendment 1, why have I not seen much mention in the press about the disastrous inflationary effects that will increase costs of all goods and services in the state?
Think about it. Under Amendment 1, much of the tax burden is shifted from homeowners to owners of businesses and rental property. Businesses cannot afford to lose money so they are forced to raise rents and fees to cover the increased tax burden. Who pays these increased prices? You and I do as consumers. Low-income rental tenants will have to pay higher rents while more affluent homeowners get the free ride because the landlord didn't get the tax break homeowners are getting.
If we want schools, libraries, stop lights and police protection, we will pay for them in the form of increased prices for goods and services from the businesses, which will pay the taxes we have conveniently swept under the carpet of homestead exemption and portability of the tax cap.
Pay me now or pay me later still applies.
Michael Otto, Oldsmar
What tax relief means - Jan. 31
A hole in the cap
With all of the talk regarding tax relief, there is one topic that to my knowledge has not been discussed. What I'm referring to is when parents die and the children inherit their home - a situation I'm currently facing.
To my shock and disbelief, I was told that the Save Our Homes cap will be lost in the process and instead my home will be taxed at market value come this November. Even though it has been my primary and only residence for the last nine years, while being the sole caregiver to my mother, my property taxes will be raised thousands of dollars due to the law.
All things considered, I would like to challenge Gov. Charlie Crist to help me and others like me to save our Save Our Homes cap. Because the way it looks now, my property tax will be totally unaffordable.
JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater
An immoral tax
Property taxation is wrong. Why?
1. There is no consideration by the government as to whether one can afford to pay the tax. The property owner is paying what someone else can afford: Market value is defined as the amount of money a typical, well-informed, unrelated buyer would be willing to pay for your property. This is immoral. The property owner is taxed on an assessment based on another's wallet - market value.
2. You are paying over and over every year, on the same investment. Shame.
3. If one can't pay the tax, then one's beloved house will be taken away. This is dark ages stuff - really! This is immoral. Is this a government "for the people"?
4. If one is laid off or fired, one's property taxes will still go higher every year. The government does not care. This is immoral.
5. When one retires, one's property taxes will still go higher every year. The government does not care. This is immoral.
6. Property taxation slows the economy and retards progress, which are obviously poor government practices.
There should be no tax on the necessities of life: air, water, food, clothing, shelter.
Property taxes should be abolished (for residential homes), and tax money should be acquired in other appropriate ways.
Harvey Ganter, Safety Harbor
Religion in science class
God and evolution
The lingering "them versus us" debate over whether creationism should be taught in a scientific classroom is misleading in at least one respect. The scientist maintains that the church's view of how the world began has no place in the science classroom because it is faith-based and not based on reason.
This is not the case at all. Most mainline Protestants and Catholics view the biblical story of creation as an allegory and not a literal explanation. With that in mind there are well accepted, reason-based arguments for the existence of a creator that do not deny the evolutionary theory. Thomas Aquinas' argument of causation is one of them. Aquinas reasoned that every effect must have a cause. Outside of time a cause lit the fuse of the big bang to begin the process of creating the universe. Many are comfortable with calling that process evolution and its cause God.
Robert H. MacPherson, St. Petersburg
Offer lesson plans
Before the contentious debate turns ugly, the question of whether creationism ought to be taught can be easily settled. Advocates of creationism should present in public, and in a medium of their choice, two or three samples of lesson plans on the subject. An unbiased, critical analysis of such presentation will enable the school authorities to decide where, if at all and in what form to fit teaching of creationism into the curricula of public schools.
Jerry Rawicki, Seminole