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Today's Letters: Three reasons to oppose Penny

By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published March 4, 2007


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I find a fascinating dichotomy emanating from those who express grave concern about the replacement of real estate taxes by a 2.5-cent increase in state sales tax. On the one hand, they express great alarm at the increase in "regressiveness" of the sales tax for those less fortunate, but they have no such alarm for the 17 percent increase in "regressiveness" imposed from Penny for Pinellas. In the 16 years that Penny for Pinellas has been in place, I don't recall a single expression of concern for its "regressive" nature.

We are often told that tourism pays about one-third of the revenue raised by Penny for Pinellas. That means Pinellas residents pay the other two-thirds of the tax revenue raised by the extra penny.

All that having been said, in my opinion, there are three very good reasons to vote against Penny for Pinellas in the March 13 election:

-If a sales tax increase is enacted by the Florida Legislature in its upcoming session and Penny for Pinellas is also approved by the voters, sales tax in Pinellas could jump to 9.5 cents on the dollar. Pinellas County will then most likely have one of the highest sales taxes in the United States.

-Real estate tax revenue has filled the coffers to overflowing over the past five years, and local officials have been able to fund all those pet projects that they could only dream of earlier. A strong message needs to be sent to these folks that our wallets are not bottomless pits that can be dipped into to fund every pet project or program that is asked for.

-While some significant infrastructure projects may be needed over the next 10 years, they can be handled by other tax revenue streams. Many major projects have been completed or will be by 2010. Meanwhile, a significant portion of the Penny for Pinellas revenue is becoming a slush fund for local good ol' boys (and girls) to be used to reward their friends and contributors.

Although I voted for Penny for Pinellas the two previous times it was on the ballot, I'll definitely vote "no" this time around.

Will Perry, Clearwater

 

Allocate Penny fairly 

$60,000 spent on $2-billion question Feb. 21, story

Having looked over the section of this story entitled "Where the money would go," I feel the need to question some of the proposed "county" expenditures.

Would someone explain to me why I, a taxpayer in St. Petersburg, should be required to buy a new police station for the city of Pinellas Park? Why should I, in St. Petersburg, be required to purchase a new fire engine for the city of Safety Harbor? Neither purchase will benefit me personally.

In my opinion, county funds should be reserved strictly for purchases that benefit the entire county (i.e., the Bayside Bridge) and/or unincorporated areas.

Municipal projects such as police/fire stations, police cruisers and libraries should be paid for with municipal funds (i.e., bond issues or - shudder - tax increases).

After seeing the various municipalities' parochial wish lists, I feel as if I'm being treated like a piggy bank to be tapped into at will. The Penny for Pinellas should not be used as a fig leaf for tax-phobic politicians to avoid making politically unpopular fiscal decisions.

Elizabeth Hoff, St. Petersburg

 

An affordable lifestyle 

Special report: Homeless in Pinellas - Pete Cormier Feb. 18

I delivered mail on Pass-a-Grille for about 10 years. I thought of it as a great and beautiful place to live. I could not afford it on $50,000 a year. I think it's great that Pete Cormier figured it out on nothing a year. What a great country.

Johnny Watters, Treasure Island

 

An uplifting report 

Homeless in Pinellas: Alma Pertee Feb. 18

I especially liked the report on how Alma Pertee gave up drugs and prostitution to help people like herself. She gave thanks to Jesus Christ.

Hunt Roberts, Pinellas Park

 

[Last modified March 4, 2007, 08:21:58]


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