Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Liberal Hernando County Commissioners Gang of Three Raise Taxes

As in The Tampa Tribune Hernando Today Section Feedback Section on 07/29/2011

Conservatives must rise up to stop tax hike in Hernando County

We need to talk about Hernando County commissioners again. Only this time, its not merely Jeff Stabins, but his other two liberal colleagues,  John Druzbick and  Dave Russell. 
This troika pretends to be conservatives when they go to the voters for support at election time but who turn into big spending liberals when it comes to governing. 
Yes, these are the same commissioners who, during these times of fiscal austerity for most citizens, had the gall at Tuesday's county commission meeting to propose a budget that would raise the county share of property taxes by more than 3 percent. 
These three commissioners shamelessly avoided conservative and creative means to a tax hike covering the $4.1 million budget deficit. There was not one mention by these three commissioners of reducing expenses by further streamlining government or proposing top level county employee salary reductions or layoffs. 
These commissioners appeared far too comfortable and arrogant at Tuesday's meeting. 
I have a theory as to their comfort for voting a proposed tax increase in these economically hurting times. Hernando County's top county staffers are a very committed group of voters for the commissioners who protect them, so are their department employees, families, neighbors and friends. 
This voting block places much emphasis on which commissioner gets elected or reelected. The county employee vote can amount to several thousands on the ballot. In other words, government voting for itself. 
Thus, this trifecta on the county commission knows where their political bread is buttered, so why not put the deficit shortfall onto the back of taxpayers and leave staffers fat and happy? 
And for all the credit to be given to true conservative commissioners Jim Adkins and Wayne Dukes who are on the side of leaner government, lower expenses and taxes; they are simply outdone by the liberal likes of Russell, Druzbick and the increasingly erratic Stabins. 
Our conservative leadership should assume some blame as well for this proposed tax hike. A monumental opportunity was missed Tuesday by the lack of conservative presence. The room should have been packed with conservatives. It wasn't even close. Frankly, it was embarrassing. 
Tuesday's theme with both Druzbick and Stabins was as if the sky was falling and raising taxes was the right and only thing to do. This show went on interspersed with Russell playing the part of hard to get, finally joking his way into the 3 to 2 vote favoring the tax increase. 
It's unfathomable to think that a tax increase could happen at this time when more and more people in the private sector are losing their jobs and businesses are being boarded up daily in Hernando County. 
The lesson that I learned from Tuesday's meeting is it's back to politics as usual unless conservative citizens show up and speak up. For example in 2007 liberal commissioners passed a 3 percent pay hike for all county employees including those earning more than $100,000 annually while the economy was rapidly turning down. Russell and Stabins served on the commission at that time. They are back favoring their core constituency once again, joined by Druzbick this time. 
Taxpayers have paid the padded salaries of top staffers at the behest of these liberal commissioners over the years and taxpayers are now being tapped again. I hope and trust that the citizenry of Hernando County becomes respectfully outraged as am I and show up at county commission meetings each Tuesday until these liberal tax-and-spend commissioners get the message and are run out of office. I also hope that our conservative leadership will begin to select and fund new conservative candidates who are smart, aggressive and incorruptible as Adkins and Dukes. 
These liberal commissioners — Druzbick, Russell and Stabins — must realize that taxing this county into a balanced budget does not work except for the beneficiaries of the vote: The overpaid Hernando County top staffers and the commissioners they direct.

Jaz  Zydenbos
Weeki Wachee, FL