West Volusia Hospital Authority,
145 E. Rich Ave.,
DeLand, FLA 32724.
To the Board:
I am appalled at the prospect of a tax increase from the rolled-back rate of 1.4609 to a proposed rate of 1.8000, an increase of over 23%. You got a break, in that the east-side Fish Wrapper incorrectly reported the rolled-back rate and the amount of increase as 1.6308 and 2.13% respectively. The Fish Wrapper suffers from general editorial cluelessness. Were the public informed truthfully, you should likely hear from more unhappy taxpayers.
I am particularly dissatisfied with the intended uses of the money. It is bad enough that I shall be paying a few hundred dollars more to the Authority (your figure of $9 being a pure fish story) I shall also suffer the knowledge that much of it is to be wasted.
Below, I discuss some of the more notable money sinks associated with this years tax increase. Were they eliminated, we could have both a balanced budget and a decrease in the millage.
As to that portion of the tax increase to be given to the doctors, you should know where I stand. I do not hang out in the boat dealership, with the docs. I am instead obliged to work in order to pay the taxes, which you will generously turn over to some of the wealthiest people in the community. In this, you act much as did Robin Hood, with the distinction that, while he transferred from rich to poor, you do the reverse.
As to that portion of the tax increase attributable to the Adventists greed for more money (increasing from $4.0M to $5.6M), I find it entirely insupportable. One of the purported benefits that the public would receive by giving them a free hospital (as well, buying for them the Scarlett property to the west) was that they would accept some of the cost of indigent care. The public would be faced with a bill of no more than $4M for the first five years, and that amount indexed for inflation thereafter. Where is the benefit to the public in giving them 40% more than we agreed to? There is no benefit to the public. The Authority but acts as a conduit for public funds, bending over and delivering upon demand.
As to the portion of the tax increase attributable to closing of Ormonds pension plan, I believe that more careful investigation will reveal that it is inadequately supported. That is, you are not making up any appropriate short-fall. Rather, you are making up for the funding which Ormond was obliged to supply, but didnt. You will recall that, while Commissioner Long regularly told us how well Ormond was doing, and claiming that they were solvent, the books told a different story. Among other issues, they under-funded the pension plan by several millions of dollars. I pointed out some of the difficulties again last year: hosp0201 of 13-Feb-2002.
In short, you ought to be ashamed. Jacking the taxes, falsely claiming a $9 increase, giving money to the wealthy, throwing away the taxpayers benefit of the bargain with the Adventists - is there any thing not shameful in your proposed budget?
PS: I copy this to the paper only that the reporter may be educated. In so doing, I do not intend to grant permission to publish the material as a letter to the editor, which right is expressly reserved.