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Republicans stoop to new low

Editor, The Beacon:

The race for state Senate District 14 was a travesty.

In a new low, the Volusia County Republican Party rode the back of a dying woman for maximum political gain.

Knowing full well that state Sen. Dorothy Hukill’s life was coming to an end, and that she would not be able to serve, her name was kept on the ballot in a calculated effort to deceive the voters of Volusia County — an effort that, sadly, succeeded.

Passing up more prominent and informed former members of state government, the party tapped Tom Wright, an unqualified Minnesota transplant and part-time New Smyrna Beach resident, as a replacement candidate, a candidate who admitted to virtually no knowledge of the district or its issues, but came with a bank account of $28 million.

Soon after, the attack ads started targeting the Democratic candidate, retired Marine Corps Maj. Melissa “Mel” Martin, graduate of the Naval Academy, JAG officer, noted environmentalist and long-term resident of the district, with the full intent of impeaching the character of a distinguished United States Marine.

Funny how Republicans are so fond of saying they support the troops, until it’s actually time to support the troops.

Newspapers across two counties investigated and discredited the accusations, and exposed them for what they truly were: outright lies.

In cowardly fashion, Mr. Wright himself remained in hiding, refusing to debate the more qualified Martin and even refusing to grant interviews to the press, unless those interviews could be conducted online. Perhaps Tom needed his mother to sit by his side to help him answer the questions.

Tony Ledbetter’s shameless ruse worked; he’s good at this stuff.

The upshot is, a totally unqualified individual will be “representing” the citizens of Volusia and Brevard counties for the next four years, while a deeply committed, wholly informed candidate with detailed, well-thought-out policy positions — positions beneficial to Republicans and Democrats alike — will be sitting on the sidelines.

Welcome to American politics 2018. We should all be ashamed.

Jack Wrightington



DeBary did right to pare its tax rate

Editor, The Beacon:

Let’s take a look at the property-tax rate DeBary chose for the coming year.

The City of DeBary has a standing reserve policy that has been established consisting of a reserve level of 150 days of city operations. This reserve at 150 days, based upon current projected operations costs, requires a reserve balance of around $4,207,650.

The current reserve balance is roughly $5,500,000, which amounts to roughly 196 days of city operations costs, far exceeding the established policy.

In my opinion, when the reserve balance exceeds the 150-day operations costs, that equates to the fact that the City of DeBary income outpaces spending, and that the tax revenues exceed that which are necessary for city operations and the 150-day reserve policy established by the DeBary City Council.

The conclusion in this regard, in my opinion, is that city taxes assessed to its taxpayers are higher than necessary when the reserve builds up and exceeds the established reserve policy.

My philosophy, speaking for myself, is to extend the lowest tax assessment possible to the citizens who pay for city operations. This is in respect to roughly 8,400 homes and around 700-plus businesses.

At the current rollback property-tax level of 2.6323, the reserve level remains at about 173 days of city operations costs, still exceeding the established policy of 150 days. In addition, there exists the $1.8 million-plus billing to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for storm reimbursement, of which the city manager says that at least $1.4 million to $1.5 million will be received within the next 12 months.

With the lower property-tax rate, the current efforts in economic development in connection with SunRail, and the city effort to broaden the tax base and attract quality growth, will be enhanced. The lower tax rate will encourage business expansion and the city attracting quality residential development.

Last, but most important, the owners of residential and business properties within the city of DeBary deserve the lowest responsible property-tax rate that the DeBary City Council can approve.

In conclusion, and to summarize, I respectfully submit the following: With the spending budget as set with the tax rate at 2.6323, we establish a reserve of 173-plus days, which far exceeds the established policy.

This rate is responsible, especially with the FEMA storm reimbursement coming soon.

Again, this lower rate gives residents and businesses a low and attractive property-tax level. It promotes positive economic expansion with the opportunity to expand our tax base, which benefits all DeBary citizens.

Sid Vihlen Jr.


— Vihlen is completing a partial term on the DeBary City Council, having been appointed to fill the vacancy created when Mike Brady moved out of town. Vihlen opted not to run for re-election, and Patricia Stevenson was elected to the seat. She will take office in January. The DeBary City Council did set the city’s property-tax rate for the coming year at the rollback rate of 2.6323 mills, or approximately $2.63 per $1,000 of taxable value. It is the lowest property-tax rate of any city in Volusia County.