There should be a public vote on use of Sensitive Land Fund money
TBO.comLet's take a trip back in time to the election of 1988.
Published: June 11, 2011
Published: June 11, 2011
Two major tax issues were on the ballot. One was asking the public to OK a sales tax increase to fund education. The second was to institute a new tax of 1/10 of a mill to be used for the purpose of purchasing environmentally sensitive lands.
Prior to the election there had been much discussion in the community about the destruction of environmentally sensitive lands and the associated animal habitat.
The period of the 1980's was a time of rapid growth in the county and the public had voiced its concern about the sensitive lands issue. There were other counties on the west coast that had instituted programs for raising money to save sensitive land.
Then-Chairman of the Hernando County Commission Len Tria proposed that a ballot initiative be prepared and placed before the public for a vote. As it turned out the sales tax issue was defeated soundly but the sensitive land proposal passed handily.
The people had spoken and said they wanted to protect sensitive lands and habitat and provide for its upkeep. Since that vote the county has been able to purchase tracts of land to save the land for preservation forever.
In addition some of the money from the fund was used to assist the Southwest Water Management District in making the 6,000-acre purchase of land that was to be developed as Oak Sound lying between U.S. 19 and Shoal Line Blvd.
Today that is known as The Linda Pederson Preserve. All of this land which is home to black bears and bald eagles, to name only two species that inhabit this magnificent tract of land. The public has access to this land and on any given weekend people can be found enjoying the preserve and its inhabitants.
The same is true for the purchase of Silver Lake which also is host to people who want to enjoy nature at its best.
Now comes the present county commission that proposes taking the money that is in the fund and use it for other purposes not originally intended for by the voters.
If the county commission wants to divert the money then a ballot question should be prepared for the public to decide if they want to phase out the Sensitive Land issue and transfer the present money to the general fund.
They should not disregard the will of the people and flagrantly violate the trust of the public that voted for this. If they try to make an end run around what is the right thing to do then it only reinforces the public's feeling that government is not to be trusted, and rightfully so!