2 council candidates give their views
Zephyrhills City Council elections will be held April 9 at the Alice Hall Community Center in front of Zephyr Park. There are two seats contested in the election. Seat 3 incumbent Kent Compton is challenged by political newcomer Rose Hale. And Seat 1 incumbent Lance Smith is challenged by former city Councilman Manny Funes. The mayor’s position is unopposed and will be filled by the sole candidate, former city Councilman Danny Burgess.Questions taken from the 2013 Zephyrhills Citizen Satisfaction Survey were posed to the candidates of the contested seats by The Pasco Tribune. Answers to the questions provided by Compton and Hale are being published today. Answers provided by Smith and Funes will be published next week. Compton, 48, was born in Washington state and moved to Florida at age 7. He has lived in Zephyrhills for 20 years. He is married to former city Councilwoman Cathi Compton. They have three children. Hale, 42, is the owner of Rose’s Café on Fifth Avenue in Zephyrhills. She was born in New York and moved to Florida 34 years ago. She has lived in Zephyrhills for 11/2 years. She is married to Jeff Hale. They have three children.
Q. In your opinion what are the most important challenges facing Zephyrhills today?
Compton: The city needs to keep taxes low yet continue to keep service levels high. This can be accomplished through continuous improvement. While our revenues have been shrinking, the city has continued to enjoy high marks in the citizen surveys. Further, city reserves have grown due to demanding budgeting and implementation practices. This process will continue because the city has embraced and provided economic development opportunities to create jobs.
The city seeks to create jobs through investments in the chamber, Main Street and the PEDC. These entities have been allocated unprecedented funding in exchange for services to market the city, develop incentives to existing and new businesses, and provide a coalition of local and regional leadership working toward the same goal of job creation in Zephyrhills.
Other critical components include education and the airport. First, the city can provide direction to the coalition to attempt to capture a vocational school, possibly on the Hercules property. A good education equals a good job. Second, the city has a growing airport. It is now self-sustaining and poised for a good future. In January, we met with (Florida House) Speaker (Will) Weatherford at the airport and provided presentations seeking a new terminal and substantial runway improvements. We seek to capitalize on our unique location between Interstates 4 and 75.
Hale: One challenge we face is the look of “not being open for business,” according to the county analysis. We have to change our image if we want the county to recognize us. We need to give businesses support in opening and to remain open. We need better schools and recreation to attract other business to want to come and relocate here, which in turn will give us jobs and stabilize our own commerce.
Q. Each year it costs more for the city of Zephyrhills to provide the same level of services. Would you support a property tax increase to maintain current levels of service?
Compton: No. I am a councilman who believes in commonsense decisions. Under my watch, the city has lived within its means and achieved a lower tax rate today than 10 years ago with no decline in services.
Hale: If after exploring all other channels, increasing taxes was our only option to keep our current level of services, then, yes, I would. How can you put a price tag on saving a life? We have primarily a retirement community, lots of mobile homes; should a fire break out, and it was your loved one, would you want someone there in seconds to a few minutes or would you want someone there 10 to 20 minutes, when it could be too late.
Q. Would you be in support of the city acquiring and operating the former Pasco County-owned park, known as Hercules Park, including the public pool, if it meant there could be ongoing additional expense to the city beyond the pool admission fees to operate it?
Compton: Yes. The Hercules Park provides an essential service because for many it is their only option for swimming. Further, Hercules could be a location for a vocational school to train future generations so they will have good jobs and contribute back to the community. However, I will continue to insist that the city lives within its means.
Hale: Yes, I would because as I said before, if we had these family amenities that would attract other professional businesses to relocate into our community, it would provide the extra income we need to service such facilities. If we don’t have anything to offer, they are not going to come and Zephyrhills will remain the same, with no change.