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Letters to the Editors

Give us details on proposed tax increase

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 16, 2003

Re: Penny sales tax packs plenty of substance, Feb. 9 guest column

Editor: Ray Gadd makes a strong argument for the tax increase in support of the school system. I would like to see the same type of argument from the Pasco County Commission, as well as from the individual municipalities.

In fact, I might be in favor of increasing the sales tax, providing the School Board, the County Commission and each municipality will publish:

A complete and detailed listing showing where every cent of all tax money now collected is being spent.

A complete and detailed, time-lapsed listing that identifies where and when the additional sales tax would be spent and the impact on the taxpayer if the tax increase is not approved.

A justification for every anticipated new expenditure explaining why each should not or could not be paid for with additional impact fees, bonds, increased tax revenue from growth and/or money obtained from the state or federal government.

After studying this input from the various recipients of the proposed increase in sales tax, I would like to see a ballot giving me the opportunity to vote for one of the following options: no increase in the Pasco County sales tax; an increase of one-half cent for the School Board only; an increase of one-half cent for the county and municipalities only, with 10 percent of the amount collected evenly divided among the municipalities; or an increase of 1 cent, with half going to the School Board and half to the county, with 10 percent of the county's share divided among the municipalities.
-- Sam Ward, Land O'Lakes

Don't let arts center idea die

Editor: On Monday, Feb. 10, several residents spoke to the Zephyrhills City Council about the proposed performing arts center. I am very proud that one of those speakers was my 9-year-old daughter, Elizabeth.

When our family talked about the idea of a performing arts center, and she discovered that the proposal would be discussed at a City Council meeting, she asked to attend and speak to the group. Elizabeth spoke from her heart about her passion for acting, singing and dancing.

I am in awe of her determination, vision and courage in choosing to speak to this important group of adults.

Courage is an act of doing what is right, often when there is risk involved. What a shame that our City Council members could not show the same courage. The motion to purchase land for the proposed center died for lack of a second.

Three members of our council, Cathi Compton, Lance Smith and Mike Bussell, had the opportunity to second the motion, but chose instead to keep silent.

Without a second, the motion could not come to a vote; without a vote, none of their positions will be on the record.

Could this be because two of their seats are up for election this year? It takes vision to take a risk. Courage requires taking a stand and not avoiding an issue. I hope that this motion can be re-introduced to the Zephyrhills City Council before a year has passed and the opportunity to purchase this land has passed our city by as well.
-- Kim McLaughlin, Zephyrhills

Critic should volunteer at school

Re: Don't worry about class size, get rid of teachers, Feb. 10 letter

Editor: Obviously, the writer has not set foot inside of a school recently.

As a substitute teacher, president of the PTA, active school volunteer and dedicated parent, I took great offense.

Not only are the teachers grossly underpaid (many have to work two jobs to support their families), but many have to put up with parental verbal abuse, student abuse, lack of respect and less than ideal working conditions because of budget cuts.

All of the teachers I see every day are caring, hard-working and dedicated to making their students learn. But when the students refuse to do homework or class work (parents don't make them study, or it is not a priority), and students are abusive toward all adults and each other, teachers become referees, babysitters, counselors and parents instead of educators.

My concern is that many wonderful teachers are getting close to retirement or are so disillusioned that they are looking toward other careers. This is a great national disaster waiting to happen. Who will be the quality teachers of tomorrow? Fewer people are going into education, for good reason, and we need more, not fewer, teachers.

Those at my son's school work hard to make it a safe, exciting learning environment, but they can't do it alone.

The parents must take responsibility for their children's education by supporting the teachers and teaching respect for others.

If the parents did their share and worked as a team with the school, then maybe the teachers wouldn't have so much to "complain" about!

Instead of writing such an off-base letter, the writer should volunteer in a school instead.
-- Holly Walker, Holiday

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