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Hernando citizens helpless in influencing use of tax dollars, reader says

Hernando County letters to the editor

A lesson in civic governance

Just like anything in life, if you want to find out how things work, follow the money. So while attending the Oct. 22 Hernando County Board of County Commissioners meeting, I discovered how helpless the citizens of Hernando County really are when it comes to influencing how our tax dollars are spent.

Here is an example.

The county commission has the authority to authorize and appropriate dollars for the constitutional offices that, in theory, provide services to Hernando County residents. Once the commission approves their budgets, the commission then loses control and apparently does not have the authority to monitor how those dollars are spent.

An example that Commissioner John Mitten shared with his fellow commissioners was related to a sheriff’s office in Alachua County, a neighboring Florida county. Apparently that sheriff’s office had a sizable reserve and excess remaining at the end of the fiscal year. That county commission attempted to recover those funds and re-allocate them back to the benefit of the county purse.

That commission took its sheriff’s office to court and lost the case. The reason cited was that once the budget has been allocated, the sheriff’s office has wide discretion to spend on whatever they want. In their case, according to Mitten, it was for year-end raises and bonuses.

The lesson learned here is to remember who we, as residents, vote for to represent our interest. That includes the Board of County Commissioners and the various constitutional officers in our county. Recall the 3-2 vote to raise the millage rate and enact the largest tax increase for the benefit of public safety.

Mike Fulford, Hernando Beach

Re: Teachers pick raises over lower insurance costs | Nov. 1 story

Sometimes I scratch my head. I’m starting to get a better picture why some Hernando County teachers cannot pass basic math and lose their state certification. Reading about some moaning over a $10 increase from $100/month for full insurance coverage means that some of them just don’t know how to determine what amounts to a percentage of their annual salary.

For comparison, my wife and I pay up front out of our Social Security $135/month each, so that’s $270/month for our household. Then we have a $185-each deductible each year for another $370 out of pocket. We also pay 20 percent of every prescription we get.

My wife receives half the Social Security money I do. Yikes. Medicare doesn’t care what your income is, as the rates are based on what was spent the prior year, and they pass the cost directly on to the retirees.

The fact that the county is paying $550 of the costs is pretty lucrative, considering medical coverage is not yet taxable as a benefit. I have been retired for 14 years. We employees in the private sector all had to cough up a portion of our salary every payday to help out, which was close to $100 even back then. Both union and supervision.

Every time we got a Social Security increase, the Medicare portion normally goes up, eating up the after-the-fact raise completely. The fact that the union was able to get the Hernando County School Board to offer a 4.75 percent retroactive wage increase for 10 months is astonishing to me —especially for people who only work nine months a year and can get a second job if they need to.

If they don’t ratify this contract by my birthday on Nov. 18, I will blow out all their candles instead of mine. Even when you make it to the finish line, there is no “free ride” in this life.

Doug Adams, Spring Hill