I have just received the annual water quality mailing from Pinellas County. I feel that while this information is important, and should be easily available for public review, the delivery method is wasteful.
In this time of tightened purse strings and environmental awareness, this distribution of valuable information wasted both money and resources. It is printed on a specialty-sized paper (extra cost to purchase and to print), using colored inks (granted, two-color rather than four, but still more expensive than black ink only).
It was also mailed separately from regular utility bills. If the bulk mailing were to cost only 25 cents for each piece for the 115,000 pieces printed, this creates a postage cost of $28,750. At 10 cents each, this cost would still be $11,500.
In addition to these costs, there is the waste of paper (recycled always contains new content along with the old), the chemicals in the ink and cleaning processes involved, and fossil fuels used in delivery. How many of these will go right into the trash, unread, and off to the landfill?
I suggest that in the future, the county announce the availability of this report in its water bill mailings in the already included "Utilitalk" flier. This announcement could tell readers where on the county website the information can be viewed, as well as a phone number that can be called to order a printed copy. Rather than printing 115,000, I would be stunned to see requests for 11,500, or a mere tenth of that.
For those who are not direct bill customers (residents who have a landlord or some other person pay the bill), I suggest that local TV and radio stations, county government TV and local print media run public service announcements or even news stories. This would keep costs, both monetary and environmental, down to an absolute minimum.
I urge readers to contact their county commissioners and county administrator to ask them to find ways of reducing costs through technology. Paperless utility billing would be an excellent start.
Ann Luce, Clearwater
* * *
Re: New Tarpon Springs fire chief
Paying for public workers' pensions
The surprising thing about new Tarpon Springs fire Chief Rick Butcher is not that he had to retire (for one day) to get the job, but that taxpayers contributed $128,395 to his pension fund. Can anyone imagine how much taxpayers contribute to all the public employees' pension plans in the state? While the ordinary person has to save for his/her pension, we also have to contribute to the pensions of these public employees.
Art Wilkins, Port Richey