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The Villages
Sunday, January 16, 2022

Commissioners Miller and Search tried to help us – Isn’t it time we try and help them?

To the Editor:

When Craig Oren Miller and Gary Search decided to run for the County Commissioners positions in 2020, they didn’t do so to further a political career. They ran because they felt that what was done to the homeowners in Sumter County in 2019, (increasing County taxes by more than 25%), was wrong. The BOCC board members that they opposed were two of the five members of the Board that voted for the tax increase. But more than just voting for the increase, all five Board members were dismissive of every one of the Sumter County homeowners who spoke against the tax increase at two Board meetings prior to voting the increase, at times, turning their backs to the audience.
Commissioners Miller and Search did not need a job that called for them to work anywhere from 40 to 60 hours a week. They were retired and living the wonderful life as Villagers. They ran for office to help us, you and me, the current Sumter County homeowners. Along with Craig Estep, they were elected by a two to one margin. What does that tell you? Simply that the homeowners in our County were tired of the “old boy network” AKA: the developers voting block. The voters wanted Board members who would handle the public’s business with an open mind and vote for what would benefit the majority of the people. Isn’t that what all officeholders should do?
The three new Commissioners ran on a platform to roll back the 25% County tax increase of 2019 and increasing the impact fees for new development. Actually they had begun that very process by raising the impact fee to the 75% level from the 40% level that it had been for years. At that level, it would take 3-5 years to effect the full roll back. Unfortunately for the homeowners of Sumter County, the Florida Legislature passed HB 337, which changed the Florida Impact Fee Legislation that had been in effect since the 1970’s and they made the new law retroactive to January 1, 2021, therefore wiping out the BOCC increase. The three new Commissioners kept their campaign promises only to be thwarted by the developer and their friends in Tallahassee.
Before you say that I am anti-developer, let me explain my position. I am a registered Republican but actually vote for the candidate, regardless of party, who, I believe, would best represent “the people.” I love living in The Villages and believe it is the best place to retire in this country. I do not begrudge the developer from expanding as far as they want. However, all I ask is that it be done fairly. The impact fee statutes enacted in the 1970’s were put into effect so that whatever developer was expanding and generating additional costs should be the one paying those additional costs.
Since Commissioners Miller and Search were working for the taxpayers of Sumter County, you and me, I believe that it is time that we showed our appreciation. This is not a blue issue or a red issue, it’s just a ”fairness“ issue. There have been two GoFundMe pages set up for these two Commissioners; one under the name of Oren Miller and one under the name of Gary Search. Let’s help these two men who were trying to help us. Any amount you can give will be greatly appreciated. You can give a donation without revealing your name if you wish. As Martin Luther King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Jay Kaplan
Village of Sabal Chase


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