Letters to the editor for Jan. 26


Published: Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2008 at 4:53 p.m.

Where has the money gone?

A look at some numbers from the Alachua County budgets and Census from the years 2000 to date sheds light on the real financial situation in our county.

According to the Census, the county population increased from 217,955 in the year 2000 to 227,120 in 2006 for a total gain of 4.2 percent. During this period actual Alachua County ad valorem taxes (primarily property taxes) increased from $56,684,729 in 2000 to $99,861,173 in 2006 for a total increase of 76.2 percent.

Note that the budget for 2007 includes ad valorem taxes at $115,438,168, and the budget for 2008 (that assumes the proposed reduction in property tax rates) lists these taxes at $113,187,697. Based on these figures the tax collected will have doubled (99.7 percent increase) over this eight year period while population probably increased less than 6 percent.

I seriously doubt that most families in our county have had their incomes double during this same period. We all have to live within our means and it seems to me that our county should easily do the same based on the figures above.

Where has all the money gone? Alachua County should have more than enough to provide our required services.

Gerald Bevis, Gainesville

Chamber is supposed to be for business

The leaders of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce have decided that they know what is best for our future. While marketing themselves as the panacea for business interests, they have decided that we need another tax.

As reported by The Gainesville Sun on Jan. 11, the Chamber is promoting a sales tax increase, to a total tax of 7.25 percent, for civic improvements and health care.

The proposed tax would not be so offensive if the millage rate were to be reduced to offset the new tax, and that the money could only be spent in areas that are considered proper roles for government. The proper roles are clearly defined in our Declaration of Independence and they do not include recreation, health care, other special interests and wealth redistribution.

Nothing is more guaranteed to attract government money than repeated failure. To profess to be an organization that supports commerce and then promote tax increases is a conflict of interest and quite dishonest. We will not tax ourselves into prosperity.

I would expect the Chamber to put up an impenetrable wall against any increased taxation. Hard-working business owners are paying dues to an organization that is trying to redistribute their wealth. Taxes eat out our substance, rob us of our property, and are the enemy of competitive free market capitalism.

This cadre of socialist leaders had the audacity to award one of its members for chairing a task force for the new tax. Taxes are the antithesis of free enterprise and property and chamber members should express their dissatisfaction.

Our nation fired a shot that was heard around the world over taxes. The power to tax involves the power to destroy. Our great nation will continue to decline with every new tax.

Lloyd W. Bailey Jr., Gainesville

We treat presidents like nation's whipping boys

Jake's cartoons of Jan. 17 and Jan. 4 might have been his best. It is a terrible shame that we treat our presidents so badly and blame them for everything bad that happens.

I well remember the caricatures of Jimmy Carter, who, agreed, was not the best president in some ways, but was and is a fine, though naive, man. President Bush is an veritable whipping boy, mostly with regard to the "nice guys finish last" principle.

As a man of conviction, he is particularly not popular with those of our society who are most fickle and vote according to superficial appeal as opposed to manifest wisdom. Now that we are progressing in Iraq, the response of the media tends to be silence, whereas failures made juicy news.

Couldn't we see more articles about the help we are giving Iraq by building and equipping needed facilities, and the one-on-one and one-on-group acts of kindness done by individual soldiers? We have not been attacked in this country for more than six years by militant Islam, and nobody can say things would have been no different were we not in Afghanistan and Iraq. The need to go into the former was obvious, and Iraq is a key country right in the middle of Muslim territory that was ruled by a hostile dictator.

Actually, I think we may well get into deep trouble if the Democrats take over the presidency.

James Ivey, Gainesville

Library program for kids promotes early literacy

Karen Voyles' article in the Jan. 17 Sun about our library could have gone further into the community improvement vision of the library board and director Sol Hirsch, especially regarding their role in supporting early childhood development here.

By adding childrens' "Snuggle Up Corners" in all branches the board is implementing the encouragement of young parents to bring their children into our libraries to get them started early in their literacy development.

This program ties in beautifully with the United Way's Success By Six initiative of early childhood development, the innovative program destined to improve the quality of life in our community by attacking the root cause of poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, juvenile and adult crime and many other symptoms caused as a result of children being born into circumstances that preclude any chance of their having a successful life.

Jim Stringfellow, Gainesville

County's arguments just don't hold up

Fictitious. That is the only word that I can think of to describe the County Commission's argument for why you should vote against Amendment 1.

Let's set the record straight. The County Commission says that it disturbs home rule. This isn't true. Homestead exemption is already part of our state constitution. Updating the constitution by the will of the people doesn't remove power from the counties or disturb home rule in any way.

In an article in The Gainesville Sun, the county says that the portability provision won't hurt but the increased homestead exemption will; so let's just deal with homestead exemption.

The fact is that homestead exemption hasn't been adjusted for the rate of inflation or property valuation increases in nearly 30 years. If it had been adjusted for the rate of inflation, your homestead exemption would be about $67,000 today. That is an exemption that you are entitled to.

In other words, not only has the County Commission taken more of your money over the years through direct taxation, they have benefited and you have suffered by the indirect taxation of inflation and property valuation. If you vote yourself the $50,000 exemption, you still won't have everything that you are entitled to, but it is better than nothing.

Finally, the last I checked, the Governor and the state government weren't spending our tax dollars telling us why we should vote for Amendment 1 (they are spending donated dollars); but your county is spending your tax dollars telling you why you shouldn't vote for Amendment 1. I want a refund on my portion of those advertising dollars.

On Jan. 29 tell the County Commission that you deserve at least a partial cost of living adjustment in your homestead exemption.

Stafford Jones, Chairman, Alachua County Republican Party, Gainesville

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