Today's Letters: City residents are subsidizing Rays
By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published August 19, 2007
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were purchased in 2004 for $200-million, and today the team is worth $267-million, according to the Forbes Web site. St. Petersburg's city leaders have been overly generous to this wealthy corporation while average city residents struggle to pay their property taxes.
The city will pay more than $2-million this year for the Trop's property insurance. The City Council, via a July 19 Consent Agenda I obtained from the City Council's Web site, approved giving the Rays another $1,281,000 for "qualifying capital repairs," of which $750,000 is for new turf.
In fact, looking at the city's 2007 budget on its Web site, dealing with only the Trop, it estimates an overall loss (revenue minus expenses) to the city of $1,748,000. To add insult to injury, the city will get only about $360,000, about one-fourth, of the annual "naming rights" revenue received from the Tropicana Corp. City taxpayers should receive all of this revenue.
The city's baseball fans have to pay full ticket prices while subsidizing the Rays through their city property taxes. And city officials have their own Trop VIP suite.
I don't see any real benefits, besides perhaps some very costly entertainment, to the city taxpayers by subsidizing an extremely wealthy organization. We need to stop giving taxpayer dollars to the Rays and use the savings to provide the city residents and taxpayers more funds for needed police and fire protection and other essential services.
Our mayor and council members should take action to stop these city tax dollar giveaways to the Rays, give up their VIP suite and reduce our city property tax burden. Our city officials will tell you that all of the above city subsidies (really tax dollar "giveaways") to the Rays are already contracted, but contracts can always be rewritten and revised. Let them know that you want them to take action to accomplish that now.
Rod Moren, St. Petersburg
Code cuts: ugly news? Aug. 12, story
How to keep codes staff
It seems a shame that St. Petersburg cuts 25 percent of a department's staff when there may be other ways to save even more money and save jobs, too. For example, if the city were to cut all code enforcement personnel's use of city vehicles and issue bus passes in conjunction with a bicycle, the job could still be done. This would save money and reap many benefits. For example:
1. No expensive fleet to maintain.
2. No insurance on the fleet.
3. Fewer CO2 emissions.
4. Improved health for personnel from all the exercise, making for less in medical costs and lost days at work.
5. Enforcement personal would get to really know the neighborhoods they service.
6. Our excellent public transportation system would get some use.
This is just one example of how the city could cut costs while keeping personnel. I am sure if our elected leaders would start thinking outside the box, they could come up with many more.
Jim Shanklin, St. Petersburg
City won't give up club fees Aug. 1, story
Professional groups help
This story is an example of how the media can slant a subject to be negative.
Professional organizations are not clubs. These organizations afford professionals an opportunity to enhance their training with educational sessions, be informed of legislative mandates, network to discuss common problems and provide solutions, and preview equipment that could enhance efficiency and productivity. Many professionals have certifications or licenses that are required by their jobs. These certifications and licenses generally require educational components to keep them current. Professional organizations many times offer these educational components for their members so that they can keep themselves current on their license and/or certification.
It always amazes me that training and memberships are always first on the chopping block during tight budget times. Yet training is what keeps agencies on the cutting edge of trends in the various fields and allows for a proactive, rather than reactive, approach for change.
Not all memberships require travel out of state. Many associations provide seminars, workshops and training that are local and can be attended during the normal workday. Yes, municipalities need to be prudent in which memberships are most critical, particularly when employees are being laid off. But to totally eliminate professional memberships and travel is a reactive approach and, in the long run, an injustice to the citizens of their community. I applaud those agencies that understand the value of having well-trained employees.
It might do the St. Petersburg Times staff well to revisit this topic and provide the positive benefits that professional associations provide to their members and to the communities they serve.
Leah Hoffman, Seminole
If you're driving, don't call Aug. 8, letter
Why stop at cell phones?
The writer of the letter in Neighborhood Times suggested a legal cell phone ban for safety's sake. Why stop there? Let's give our legislators some work to do.
There are many other distractions on our roads every day, with cell phone usage being only the beginning. For example, what about that cheeseburger? Are you a smoker? Where did those ashes fall anyway? While we're at it, let's ban that cup of coffee. Toddler crying? Pull over or risk a ticket. Movie too loud? Radio too loud? Passenger won't stop talking? Let's ban passengers, too.
We could also ban any driver taking prescription medication. That should seriously clear the roadways. Or the guy who had shoulder surgery who doesn't quite have his range of motion back yet. Or what about people with slower reflexes like the elderly? This could go on endlessly.
Drivers should use good common sense while driving and let the legislators work on getting money into our schools and better health care for our citizens. Bottom line: Don't be careless behind the wheel.
M. Canter, Seminole
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