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Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014
Letter of the Day

Paying for change

Published:

If it sounds too good to be true, it's time for some good questions.

Ever since reading about how Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill wants to put a new evaluation process in place regarding which nongovernmental organizations should receive how much funding, I have been thinking about how it is possible to provide substantive services for pennies. I ask myself if the goal isn't really just a way to give lip service to providing help while the real agenda is to reduce budgets. Don't get me wrong. I'm all about reducing my taxes. And I'm especially interested in providing treatment to those in need, but why pay anything at all if we're not really receiving a benefit?

Hmm, $13 a day. Could you eat for $13 a day? Even if it were Cheerios for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch and a burger at dinner? Then there's the light bill, the phone, the cleaning/laundry, waste removal and lawn care: Divided among many, it could be provided for a few bucks, but now we're over the $13. Then there's administration - the president, vice president, accountant, grant writers, secretaries. Hmm, lots more overhead, and with fewer people to supervise than the jail, it must be higher than the jail per person.

OK, so let's now add counselors. What licensed, qualified professional works for less than $25 an hour? Once again, spread over many, that cost could come down, but we're still over the $13. And then you have to ask: How many people are being served by that counselor, and are they really getting any serious treatment? It costs the jail $105 a day per person, and they don't even provide the counseling.

You see where I'm going with this? If anyone really wants to provide substantive change, they have to pay for it. Otherwise why waste the money at all - unless it's all just politics?

Lauren Shiner

Tampa

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