Letters to the Editor, Jan. 27


Published: Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 5:13 p.m.

Tax cut will hurt your city

On Jan. 29 voters have an opportunity to oppose or approve the state proposed property tax change, Amendment 1. Here's what you should know about it from your city government's perspective.

Last year, state legislation mandated rollbacks to millage rates, decreasing property tax revenues to the city by $4.1 million. Amendment 1 proposes additional changes that include increasing the current $25,000 homestead exemption to $50,000, and a portability provision that would allow homeowners to transfer their Save Our Homes savings if they move.

These changes will reduce the amount of ad valorem revenue received by city and county governments for a second consecutive year without addressing fundamental inequities in our current tax system. The total financial impact to Gainesville is uncertain because the cost of the portability provision is impossible to predict.

Under Amendment 1, the maximum savings in city taxes for Gainesville's homeowners is projected to be $104.24 per year. This relatively small savings will reduce the 2009 city budget by an additional $3.1 million and trigger significant city budget cuts that will severely curtail existing levels of service provided to you.

Each Gainesville voter must decide whether an annual maximum savings of $104.24 to homeowners is worth impacting your city's ability to provide the high quality, cost-efficient services that you repeatedly tell us you want and need.

If the proposed property tax amendment is approved, your mayor and city commissioners will be forced to make painful decisions about which city services to cut.

I urge you to visit the City of Gainesville Web site at www.city ofgainesville.org and get informed. Your vote on Tuesday will determine the future progress of our city.

Russ Blackburn,

City Manager

City of Gainesville

***

Shame on the county

The Alachua County Commission feels the need to spend our taxpayer money by doing a mass mailing of fliers. All this was a political attempt to sway the vote on Amendment 1.

The commission's only excuse went something like this: Well, the state did it so we can do it, too. Although those are not Mark Sexton's exact words, that was the drift of the communications coordinator's response.

The reality is that just because people can do something does not mean they should do something. I realize that there is seldom a tax increase that both our city and county commissions do not like (they are still under the foolish assumption that tax increases actually help the working poor). I also realize that a redistribution of wealth, regardless of how people worked hard to earn that wealth, is a priority for our local liberal politicians.

But nothing justifies either the commissioners or our state politicians using our money for their politics! The fact that my family's hard-earned tax money was spent to defeat an amendment we support, especially after all the money woes our commissioners whine about, is despicable.

How the commission can justify spending $21,500 for the mailings (not including the $500-$750 for staff time) eludes me. But, what the heck, the state campaigned, too. All I can say is "Get off the school playground, commissioners, and stop wasting our hard-earned money on your politics!"

Nancy C. Thomas McInnes,

Gainesville

***

Can Florida afford this?

Voters will be asked to decide "yes" or "no" on Amendment No. 1. Proponents claim that the property tax cut plan would save taxpayers nearly $10 billion over five years. Opponents counter that Amendment No. 1 will significantly limit local control and the ability of local governments to provide critical, necessary and quality of life services.

Step back and ask, "What are the critical needs in Florida and what vision is being offered to address these needs, and how will it be funded?"

According to the 2005 Report Card of the American Society of Engineers, 18 percent of Florida's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Some $3.7 billion is needed over the next twenty years to address drinking water infrastructure. One hundred dams were identified as high hazard dams.

In 2007, The United Health Foundation ranked Florida 41st out of 50 states in health. Challenges include a high rate of uninsured population at 21 percent, a high violent crime rate, and a high incidence of infectious disease.

Florida ranks 29th in the 2006-2007 Smartest State Award, based on 21 key elementary and secondary education indicators reported from Education State Rankings.

I ask the voters of Florida to carefully consider one question when voting: What is your vision for Florida, and what funding sources are needed to make it become a reality?

Tom Webster,

Gainesville

***

I voted to cut my taxes and you should do the same

I voted yes for Amendment 1 (property tax cut) and I hope others will vote yes, too. County Commissioner Rodney Long stated that the amendment was "done in secret in Tallahassee." Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Florida have a Sunshine Law in place?

Bettye Stoney Allen,

Gainesville

***

The Dems didn't do it

In response to the Jan. 22 letter from Deborah McGuire: She has a very good reason for being dismayed at the slaughter of our constitutional rights by the Republicans, especially in Florida.

The 2000 election was a huge mess, a giant fix involving then Gov. Jeb Bush and his brother who wanted to be president. Florida was pushed into the GOP column even though more people voted for Al Gore.

However, McGuire blames the Democrats for moving up the Florida primary for election '08. I would ask that she and all others with this erroneous idea visit the website of Make It Count Florida. It will answer all the questions about which party is trying to fix the vote in Florida.

A little research will show that this is a ploy by Republicans to use their waning power to keep states in the red column. It's no secret. It was in the papers.

Nothing can be done about these thugs in power unless we vote. And we can vote and our votes do count. Don't count Florida in the red state column yet.

Get out and vote, but for goodness sake, stop telling each other that the Democrats moved up the date of the primary. It just ain't so!

Linda C. Wilson,

Gainesville

***

Don't forget our troops

Our elected officials in Washington are discussing many options for determining who will qualify for the proposed tax rebates suggested by President Bush. There are many who believe the rebates, should only be provided to those who actually owed taxes in 2007.

Whatever criteria is used to decide who gets these rebates there is one group that must be included: members of our military. Most of the enlisted soldiers, and certainly all who served in a combat zone during 2007, had little if any taxable income. However, these men and women and their families certainly should qualify for the proposed rebates, regardless of their tax situation last year.

Pam Petersen,

Gainesville

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