Letters to the Editors
Tarpon survey on services could be done more cheaply
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 24, 2002
When I first learned that the city of Tarpon Springs was going to do a survey and ask its citizens to prioritize city services and get their opinion on how to pay for them, I thought it would be a good idea. I assumed the city was going to include this survey in our monthly utility bills, as it has used this method for "educating" us about various issues in the past. This would have cost only about $400-$500. Now it would seem I was badly mistaken.
While I agree with the city on the need to get our citizens more involved in the priorities of city spending, I completely disagree on the method and amount of money that will be spent on this survey (also called the City Visioning Program).
The city has now approved this survey by the University of South Florida for a cost of approximately $50,000. Our beautiful but small city has about 20,000 residents; out of this number there are about 14,000 registered voters who live in about 6,000 households. Even if 5,000 households participate in some way with this survey, it will cost each household $10.
This begs the question: Would you pay anything to participate in such a study? I wouldn't, and everyone I've asked so far has told me they would not either. Yet in reality we, the taxpayers, have already been forced to pay for this survey whether we wanted to or not since it has been approved by the city.
I try not to find fault without also providing some alternative and less costly solutions. In my opinion, the city could advertise and hold various public town meetings at City Hall on different dates. This would allow useful input from our citizens that is much more economical. I am sure other concerned citizens could also come up with alternatives.
The city could also find out if we, the taxpayers, even want such a survey. Our city government has an inexpensive but little used method of answering these types of questions. It can have a nonbinding referendum that simply asks, "Do you want the City of Tarpon Springs to spend $50,000 on a survey to find out what the taxpayers want our money to be spent on by city officials?" This question can easily be tacked on to the next city referendum or special election. Done this way, it would not cost anything extra and would allow all voting citizens a say on how to spend our money.
Local municipal government is the closest thing to true representative government that we have in this great country of ours. Tarpon Springs is beautiful, but it is also small and our tax base is not nearly as large as that of many cities. We need to be careful how we spend our money.
Copies of this visioning proposal are available at the city clerk's office. Your opinion is important, and in a small town like ours, it also counts. Tell our officials how you feel.
Residents must become involved in redevelopment
Re: Commission discusses downtown redevelopment, story, Oct. 15.
This morning's article about the plans for downtown Clearwater was very interesting. Since I was unable to attend the work session, I did not get to hear Planning Director Cyndi Tarapani's presentation and therefore do not understand her statement, "We want to make sure we're in agreement with the general concept." Whose general concept? The mayor's, the commissioners' or the staff's?
I have heard Reginald Owens, director of Economic Development and Housing, at more than one meeting speak very generally about a concept for downtown, but look forward to hearing more. Much was said about the revitalization of our business area during the last election campaign. I advocated, and still support, a pedestrian-friendly shopping mall for Cleveland Street and Osceola Avenue. I was pleased to read that future plans include this idea as well as incorporating more historical characteristics in construction and prohibiting convenience stores, etc.
City Manager Bill Horne's question about a streetscape that would have a "city feel like Dunedin" was an excellent one. Dunedin's downtown is charming and active.
Clearwater can be charming and active, too. Now is the time, before the bridge is completed, for citizens to become involved, attend meetings and support an effort to regain our downtown, which can become the vibrant heart of sparkling Clearwater.
Letter writer doesn't understand rules of the road
Re: Speeders rove unchecked on U.S. 19, letter, Oct. 11.
I usually ignore letters and/or comments that are asinine or ignorant, but the writer who suggested black-on-yellow speed limit signs in the construction areas of U.S. 19 is sadly indicative of the lack of knowledge of the roadways by drivers in this area.
Had this person even briefly scanned through a driver's handbook in any state, he would know that the coloring he suggested is for advisory speed limits only (such as on curves), while black on white signs are regulatory in nature.
As a person with 10 years of experience in transportation engineering, I would suggest to the writer that he get out of the left lane, move with the flow of traffic, and hasten to a driver's license office to obtain and read a driving handbook.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times
North Pinellas desks