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    Tarpon Springs debates referendum questions: Pro

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 15, 2002

    I would like to offer my personal thoughts regarding the referendum items that I have voted to place on the ballot. These items deserve careful consideration by the voters because they will affect the long-range administrative and economic stability of Tarpon Springs. I support a "yes" vote on all of them.

    Item No. 1 on sale and purchase of real property, and Item No. 4 on leases and contracts: Current charter restrictions require a referendum for any transaction involving the sale or purchase of real estate and for any lease in excess of five years. These restrictions place the city at a bargaining disadvantage because most transactions consider time of the essence. Interested parties will not wait for a time-consuming and expensive referendum (current estimated cost of a referendum is $12,000).

    Most of our neighboring communities do not have the restrictions that Tarpon Springs has currently. We are at a competitive disadvantage with other large and small communities that have increased their tax bases through planned community redevelopment. A "yes" vote will allow the city to move forward with community redevelopment projects and increase the tax base. Both of these amendments will be controlled by strict state law and will require a supermajority vote (four out of five) by the City Commission.

    Item No. 2 on requiring a supermajority vote to remove the city manager: This amendment involves the continuity of keeping a very productive and innovative city manager, as we currently are fortunate to have, versus promoting turnover for an unknown entity. City managers would not turn over nearly as often if the city were able to provide a certain amount of job security from the potential of political instability. More often than not, cities pay out large severance packages to get rid of city managers, who fall victim to a temporary shift in power.

    We currently have a wonderful city manager who deserves long-term stability. A "yes" vote would require a supermajority vote in order to terminate a city manager.

    Item No. 3 on term limits: Term limits take away voters' right to vote for whomever they choose without interruption. Simply stated, term limits should be determined by the voters: Vote for a person to retain that person in office, or don't vote for the incumbent if he or she has not done a good job.

    We have been blessed with a progressive, productive and respected mayor, Frank DiDonato, who will be denied a chance to continue to direct the work that is benefiting our community. Under his leadership, we have achieved extraordinary cooperation from county, state and federal officials.

    Our city was recently recognized for its vision and progress in a feature article in Florida Trend magazine. A "yes" vote would continue the flow of good leadership by eliminating term limits.

    Item No. 5, changing residency requirements for boards and committees: Currently, only city residents are allowed to be appointed to our boards and committees. Occasionally, we may create a temporary committee or board for a specific purpose, one that is not quasijudicial in nature.

    Many of our business owners do not reside within our city limits, yet they have a vested interest in our community, pay taxes and support our community in a number of ways. By being able to place them on nonquasijudicial boards and committees, we can take advantage of their vast knowledge, valuable resources and enthusiasm. A "yes" vote will bring fresh new faces and ideas into our community.

    Item No. 6 would allow the city to purchase a small vacant lot. A "yes" vote will allow the city to maintain a waterfront open space, which will have a positive effect for our city.

    Thank you for allowing me to serve Tarpon Springs for three terms (nine years) as one of your city commissioners. I have learned a great deal about people, issues and politics. The experience could not have been gained in any other way.

    It has had a profound effect on my life, both positive and negative. I have seen many positive changes in our community, some as a result of years of turmoil. I am proud of my accomplishments as a public servant and thank those of you who supported me over the years. I look forward to the leadership of David Archie, who will serve in the seat I vacate.

    Together with the rest of the commission and the city staff, Tarpon Springs will continue to move forward and prosper. Please vote "yes" on all of the referendum questions on the ballot Tuesday. They will be good for Tarpon Springs.

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