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    Letters to the Editors

    Unhappy? Then move elsewhere

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published July 8, 2001

    Re: Dissent surfaces at condo complex, story, July 1.

    I have lived at On Top of the World for eight years and think it's a wonderful place to live. Economical, too. Through the efforts of Colen management, we are able to manage our budgets with no unexpected "assessment" surprises. Most residents are very happy in this little world. My hat is off to Sidney Colen.

    Those people who are fomenting revolution are just rabble-rousers, and I'll bet they'd make trouble wherever they live. If they don't like it here, why don't they move elsewhere and stop rocking the boat? Every time I drive into the complex I give a sigh of relief at the beautiful and peaceful atmosphere I have chosen as my home.

    Warmongers, get out!
    -- C. Sangiamo, Clearwater

    Condo life could be improved

    Re: Dissent surfaces at condo complex, story, July 1.

    Very interesting story regarding things here at On Top Of World condominium apartments. It certainly gets one wondering. While I have always enjoyed living here (other places can't compare), things could be improved and a lot closer attention taken to people's needs and complaints.

    While I have no desire to join this outlaw group that seems to be investigating some of Colen's practices, as well as some of the rules and regulations, I do wonder about a few things.

    For instance, how do they justify a raise in the condo fee, each and every year? This is no small amount either, but very substantial when you consider they have 5,000 units here. I've heard that when unit owners report problems, why does it take an act of Congress to get repairs made? And even when some repair jobs are completed, the problem still exists. Maybe Colen is within the letter of the law, but if he is, someone gets some mighty hefty bonuses every year at the expense of the unit owners.
    -- Fran Glaros, Clearwater

    Clearwater tax rate too high

    When it comes to the Clearwater ad valorem tax rate, political spin is alive and well. Last year a commissioner responded to the question, "How do we compare with our neighbors?" by allowing that Clearwater is not the highest, not the lowest, perhaps in the middle.

    A more forthright answer might be: Clearwater is higher than Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Largo, Belleair and unincorporated Pinellas. Our city's millage rate also surpasses Tarpon Springs, Pinellas Park, Seminole, the beach communities and others. Except for the unlucky taxpayers in St. Petersburg, Clearwater is the tax-and-spend leader.

    The mayor reiterated the greater quality of life that Clearwater residents supposedly enjoy. My quality of life would probably not be diminished if my house were served by only two or three garbage trucks per week rather than the current five. Closing the Harborview Center, eliminating city-sponsored Coachman Park concerts and downtown road-closing parties and art festivals would not only save another million dollars a year, but would also enhance my quality of life by easing transit to the beach. I'm not aware of any reports showing a higher crime rate or lower crime clearance rate among our neighbors. The fire department evaluator who grades from 1 to 10 assigns Clearwater a 3. Are our neighbors rated higher? The homeless project serves northern Pinellas, but isn't most local support provided by Clearwater taxpayers? Is the percentage of our neighbors' use of libraries, recreation facilities and sports leagues reflected in their financial support?

    Setting each year's budget priorities and tax rates is probably the most difficult, yet most important, duty of Clearwater's leaders. Acknowledging that Clearwater residents pay more than their neighbors is a first step. Perhaps looking at how those neighbors manage with less is a second step. Finally, asking them to contribute more to regional projects and activities can't hurt and might help.
    -- Jim Ficken, Clearwater

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