Leave the protected be
A Wall Street Journal editorial letter from James L. McDonald of Fairfax, Va., on June 25, entitled "Constitutional Threats Trump Terror" stated, ". . . as Abraham Lincoln once warned: 'If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.' If we allow ourselves to shrug off an unconstitutional NSA intrusion into American life, we are cutting our own throats. If we are willing to surrender our constitutional rights in order to gain a little security, we are deserving of neither."
This Lincoln quote directly correlates to the recent local government discussions on changing the cost of fire services from the property tax to a "fee" charged to all property owners. While it is true moving those costs from the property tax to a fee structure will lower millage rates, it will also increase costs to citizens who have constitutional exemptions from paying [some or all] property taxes. "Getting money from those not paying property taxes" has been stated as one of the reasons to create this fee structure. A prime example would be the newly enacted "Low-Income Seniors Exemption" on which a number of cities and counties are voting. If that were approved along with the creation of fire fees, a jurisdiction would be voting to give their low income seniors a tax break with great fanfare about caring for them and then, at the same time, creating a new fee structure which will require them to pay more taxes (I refer to all payments to government as "taxes").
Making low income seniors, combat-related disabled veterans, blind people and others with legitimate exemptions pay flat fees because they legitimately pay less than others in property taxes is just plain disturbing to me. In addition to the constitutional issues, the regressive nature of fees (taxes that cost poor people a higher percentage of their income than percentage taxes like the property tax) adds another dimension to the problem.
Those targeted in this fee vs. tax discussion (our blind, disabled veterans, newly exempted low income seniors, etc.) belong to a protected species under our state constitution. Let's don't include them in the hunt for tax money. In other words, protect the protected. In my opinion, the "fee versus tax" discussion needs a lot of research and public scrutiny before we put it in the oven.
Morgan B Gilreath, Volusia County Property Appraiser
Good luck, Hunter Chard
A couple of weeks ago, I read an article in your Hometown News about Hunter Chard, who was invited to a CCM Skills Hockey Camp in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. What a great opportunity for this young man. I hope he can fulfill his dreams of playing in the NHL. There is nothing better than a good hockey player going for his "goal."
I was born and raised in the small town of Eveleth, Minn., which houses the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame where we either played or watched the boys play hockey all of our growing years. We girls, of course in those days, did not play hockey as they do now, but spent most of our free time at an outdoor rink or at our arena "The Hippodrome" ice skating. We had many boys from our town go on to play collegiate hockey, especially for the University of Minnesota. Also, we had some who went on to the Olympics in 1960 and The Miracle on Ice in 1980; and to the NHL in Chicago, St. Louis, etc.
I want to wish the best of luck to you, Hunter Chard. Hockey is a great sport and if you involve yourself to the fullest, you will go all the way.
Catherine "Kay" Torkkola, Port Orange