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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015

It's time for voters to get their heads out of the sand

Guest columnist

Published:   |   Updated: July 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

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The end is near for the conservative Republican philosophy that has dominated our county for the past eight years. David Russell, chief proponent, and Wayne Dukes, who pledged not to raise taxes and support ultra-conservative "Man Gone Wild" Blaise Ingoglia will break their pledges and raise taxes.

What is going on? Russell and Dukes I guess do not want to soil their hands and pick up brooms to clean the streets with Commissioners Nick Nicholson, who in all fairness is a self-proclaimed "Disabled Veteran" and can't use a broom; Diane Rowden, a housewife who does; and Jim Atkins, who is not afraid of hard work.

Len Sossamon reported that with the current deficit and lack of reserves that were gobbled up the past few years, we, the county, either lay off everyone and pay the county commissioners zero or raise taxes. So the choice is clear; taxes will go up.

The conservative approach to hold the line on taxes was just plain wrong. What should have been done was to listen to those lost voices of reason, the residents who want specific services and use rollbacks to keep revenue flowing at a constant rate.

Yes, looking back at the 2007 budget in excess of $434 million compared to 2013 of $412 million, there was room to trim.

There is another untruth being generated: Public workers earn more than private-sector workers - hog wash! I think that statement was comparing apples to oranges.

Where were the salaries of the top executives and doctors at the regional hospitals and our newspapers? Where were the salaries of our county's Realtors and developers who claim to be the elite?

Not everyone in this county works for Walmart or Dollar General earning $8 an hour for part-time work as a volunteer. So adjust the numbers to reflect all the managerial elite both in the county as public wage-earners like the sheriff and his command staff, the county administrator and assistant county administrators, all the department managers in the county and the commissioners who top off over $62,000 each. That is quite a bit more than county workers. The average salary of a county worker, not managerial in most cases, may qualify them for food stamps as does the salaries for the Walmart volunteers and General Dollar volunteers. I say volunteers because they do work hard and are paid so little.

Part of the reason is our economic development that was so proudly touted has been geared to producing these "volunteer-type" jobs at Dollar General, Walmart and fast food stores - all important jobs, but they do not sustain a living wage in today's economy.

More jobs like the jobs outlined by Corporate Jet Solutions, where the workers are to be paid around $20 per hour, are needed. Where is the light industry? Where are the distribution hubs? Where do they go? Not to Hernando County.

There are 3,000 other counties all vying for these jobs, many not by giving away the store with incentives, although these help. But by offering services for their employees, who will be your neighbor one day.

These services include the parks, recreation, summer programs, libraries, outdoor events, mowed public lands, new fencing and freshly painted and properly maintained facilities. This type of leadership is lacking with the current conservative financial elected officials who are turning the entire county into a slum to benefit an elite that, according to the county's figures, doesn't exist.

We need to look into the future and not the past. There are solutions and our thinking needs to be out of the box. Taxes are one way to generate the revenue stream that is required on an annual basis to cover county operating expenses.

Fees and paid advertising to the county are others that pop into mind. There are many other forms of revenue that are available if we elect qualified individuals to actually manage our affairs and not run it into the ground!

Hernando County, take your head out of the sand!

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