Today's letters: More government not what we need

Letters to the Editor
Published October 28, 2007

Re: A tale of one city - maybe story, Oct. 17

I would like to echo Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala's opposition to the proposed incorporation of Palm Harbor.

It seems that there are always a few who wish to create more government. They feel that those of us living in unincorporated areas of the county don't get a fair percentage of the Penny for Pinellas sales tax money.

Beyond this point, what would incorporation mean for Palm Harbor? We already have 24 municipalities in Pinellas County and now they want to create another one? What we don't need is yet another layer of local government, further diluting the talent pool of "city" officials out there and creating the expense of keeping a slate of officials.

In addition, incorporating creates unnecessary duplication of services. Just ask Dunedin about its improved police protection now that it contracts with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, with better resources, forensic sciences, etc., after maintaining its own expensive city Police Department for many years.

As for not getting our "fair percentage" of the Penny for Pinellas money, we already have plenty of beautiful places to enjoy passive recreation in Palm Harbor, such as Wall Springs Park, John Chesnut Sr. Park, A.L. Anderson Park and the Pinellas Trail.

Please. No additional local government!

David L. Brandon, Palm Harbor

Re: A tale of one city - maybe story, Oct. 17

Coalition has county's attention

Last year, I attended one of the original meetings of the Palm Harbor Coalition. At that time we were concerned about Palm Harbor getting a fair share of the Penny for Pinellas money.

There were as many Pinellas County employees at that meeting as there were coalition members. At that time the county employees reviewed numerous reports on the tax base for the different cities compared with Palm Harbor. They discussed with us how the money was distributed from the Penny tax and reviewed the projects budgeted for Palm Harbor. I thought the county was being very attentive to our questions and needs.

On Aug. 30, the coalition had a town hall meeting that five of the seven county commissioners attended along with numerous county employees, each with a presentation so we would be fully informed of how the county would go about cutting the 7 percent from the county budget as mandated by the state Legislature. This equated to $80.4-million needing to be cut from the budget.

Then there was a lengthy period in which they took written questions and questions from the floor. I was very surprised that the first question was about garbage pickup in Palm Harbor. It was obvious to me that this was not the time to be asking about increased services when we all came to this meeting knowing the county was facing this budget cut. The commissioners and county employees all stayed and were available after the meeting to answer our questions.

I do not think this demonstrates a county government that is unresponsive to our needs. In looking at the tax bases of the cities, in every case our tax base in Palm Harbor is lower. How could incorporating save us money? Increased services always come at a price and a city government does not come free!

I personally do not believe that the majority of Palm Harbor residents would be interested in incorporating. I certainly do not want or feel that we need another layer of government between us and the county.

Ellen J. Pfau, Palm Harbor

Re: Palm Harbor incorporation

Let the process work for a change

This issue should be left to the residents after the pros and cons of both sides are given in community meetings and printed in the paper for all to see.

As for County Commissioner Susan Latvala's statement that "There's just this handful of people (Greater Palm Harbor Community Coalition) who think that Palm Harbor is not getting its fair share ... the people I have talked to seem happy with the government they have," I would like to know exactly who she talked to, how did she pick who she talked to and what questions she asked them.

While some Penny for Pinellas money has been given to some facilities, others have been snubbed. Who decides who qualifies? For those that did not qualify, were they sent a letter of explanation of why and what needs to be done so they can get their "fair share"?

Kitty Mozina,Palm Harbor

Re: A tale of one city - maybe story, Oct. 17

Nehr's comment a bit self-serving

I thought it very hypocritical of state Rep. Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs, to say the "citizens should have a choice with a referendum vote" on Palm Harbor incorporating.

It was only just before he ran for state representative and while serving as a Tarpon Springs city commissioner that he replied to my letter in the Times asking for the Tarpon Springs City Commission to explore the potential for replacing our Tarpon Springs Police Department with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office - a move that should save us substantial money and give us a more professional policing agency.

Rep. Nehr's shoot-from-the-hip response in his letter to the editor bordered on the absurd, as one of his primary reasons for blindly supporting the Tarpon Springs police was that they watched his house for him while he was on vacation, a service that is part of the Tarpon Springs Police Department.

Then we had comments that the local police even knew the cats in the neighborhood by name and could "bring Fluffy" home.

How ridiculous, considering turnover in the Tarpon Springs department. And the sheriff's officers would get to know Fluffy too!

Nehr was adamantly against "letting the citizens have a voice through a referendum" then, and I suspect courting local law enforcement and not creating any divisive issues just before the election had a lot of impact on his response. Now that the fox is in the chicken coop, he wants everyone (except where he lives) to have a choice, and I won't be surprised to hear this mantra in his future political forays.

I also thought it was interesting that he says his comment about a referendum doesn't mean he is taking sides, which is exactly what I asked (Peter Nehr included) and am still asking our local commissioners to do: Let the voters decide if we want to save millions of dollars.

Rep. Nehr, you need to learn you can't have it both ways. But then again, it seems to be working for you, doesn't it? Maybe you will sponsor a bill to let the voters decide on saving money and getting better policing in Tarpon Springs. How about it, Rep. Nehr? How about using your position of power for all of your constituents, not just for the ones you think can land some votes for you?

Robert Prescott, Tarpon Springs

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