Jan Gardner on her board's budget achievements

Frederick News Post
Jan Gardner
09/26/2013
Citizens deserve the facts. A recent letter to the editor by the Young Board of County Commissioners (absent Commissioner David Gray) provided inaccurate information about the county budget. The Gardner board managed the county budget responsibly, controlled spending and earned the first AAA bond rating for Frederick County. By contrast, the Young board has increased spending, raised taxes and redirected significant taxpayer dollars to subsidize new development projects while cutting services to the community’s neediest residents. These are the facts: Fact: Over the four years of the Gardner board, the budget grew from $436.7 million to $438.3 million, an increase of $1.6 million. Over only the first three years of the Young board, the budget grew from $438.3 million to $516.3 million, an increase of $78 million. If the fire tax budgets are separated out, over three years, the Young board increased the budget from $438.3 million to $474.1 million, an increase of $35.8 million. Fact: The Young board raised taxes when the fire tax districts were shifted into the operating budget.

Jan Gardner on her board’s budget achievements

Frederick News Post
Jan Gardner
09/26/2013
Citizens deserve the facts. A recent letter to the editor by the Young Board of County Commissioners (absent Commissioner David Gray) provided inaccurate information about the county budget. The Gardner board managed the county budget responsibly, controlled spending and earned the first AAA bond rating for Frederick County. By contrast, the Young board has increased spending, raised taxes and redirected significant taxpayer dollars to subsidize new development projects while cutting services to the community’s neediest residents. These are the facts: Fact: Over the four years of the Gardner board, the budget grew from $436.7 million to $438.3 million, an increase of $1.6 million. Over only the first three years of the Young board, the budget grew from $438.3 million to $516.3 million, an increase of $78 million. If the fire tax budgets are separated out, over three years, the Young board increased the budget from $438.3 million to $474.1 million, an increase of $35.8 million. Fact: The Young board raised taxes when the fire tax districts were shifted into the operating budget.

Facts on county budget, please

Frederick News Post
Bob White
08/04/2013
Enough misdirection is enough! Citizens deserve facts about the county budget, not hazy self-serving propaganda. ... The Young board has cut over 200 fees and taxes — primarily to benefit of the development and building industry. Most county taxpayers will not experience a benefit from these fee reductions. In many instances, there are still county costs to cover development review and inspection of projects. These costs have been shifted to the backs of county taxpayers. This means the taxpayer is now paying for the cost of permits and inspection for development projects that previously have been covered by user fees. The public deserves facts, not fiction about the budget and taxes. Look at your recently mailed property tax bill. Look at the annual county budget summaries. Spending and your tax bills have gone up! I guess this is the Young board just doing what it promised!

Commissioners solidify changes to fire and rescue funding

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/21/2013
County commissioners Thursday took the final steps to abolish the two-tier fire tax system that has funded local emergency services since 2001. Officials passed a county operating budget earlier this month that eliminates the fire tax and funds the rescue system primarily through property taxes, essentially spreading the cost of emergency services evenly across all taxpayers. Commissioners made the changes permanent Thursday by zeroing out the fire tax, which was levied at a higher rate in urban districts and at a lower rate in suburban districts. While four of the board members supported the action, Commissioner David Gray opposed it. Gray said the package of changes to the fire system hadn’t been thoroughly vetted.

County board approves $516.3M operating budget

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
06/07/2013
Four Frederick County commissioners voted to pass the operating budget for fiscal 2014, which will begin July 1. The new budget is roughly $45 million larger than last year's, primarily because it includes about $40 million in emergency services costs that previously were in a separate fund.

Frederick County sets property tax

With fire tax rolled into general fund, overall rate increases
Gazette
Ryan Marshall
05/09/2013
The commissioners are scheduled to vote on the county’s $516 million proposed budget for fiscal 2014 on June 6. The new property tax rate of $1.064 per $100 of assessed value is an increase from the fiscal 2013 rate of $0.936. The commissioners approved the new rate by a vote of 4-1.

Here we go again

Frederick News Post
07/02/2012
We find it ironic that the controversy over the $100 tax rebate checks the Frederick County Commissioners want to give back to taxpayers just won't go away quietly. Ironic, we say, because had the commissioners simply picked a better option, such as reducing the tax rate in the spring to cover the $6.7 million refund to taxpayers, then the issue would be over and the savings would be reflected in the tax bills being mailed out after July 1

Data shows Frederick teacher salaries among lowest in Maryland

Statistics presented at joint meeting of board of education, commissioners
Gazette
Margarita Raycheva
06/20/2012
For months, Frederick County education officials have been saying the salaries of their teachers fall at the bottom of the scale among Maryland school systems. Now they have brought out the statistics to prove it.

One for the ‘Hall of Shame’

Frederick News Post
Rev. Dr. John R. Deckenback
06/09/2012
I am embarrassed by the priorities and values expressed through the budget affirmed by the Frederick County Commissioners on Thursday. Government, on behalf of the community, has a responsibility to care for its neediest. The budget decisions pronounced Thursday regarding financial support for nonprofit-based social services appear to neglect this responsibility for the whole community's well-being. The prospect of small rebate checks to property owners only compounds this denigration of our community. This is not simply something for the Hall of Shame and an embarrassment to a community I call home, but a dereliction of responsibility.

One for the 'Hall of Shame'

Frederick News Post
Rev. Dr. John R. Deckenback
06/09/2012
I am embarrassed by the priorities and values expressed through the budget affirmed by the Frederick County Commissioners on Thursday. Government, on behalf of the community, has a responsibility to care for its neediest. The budget decisions pronounced Thursday regarding financial support for nonprofit-based social services appear to neglect this responsibility for the whole community's well-being. The prospect of small rebate checks to property owners only compounds this denigration of our community. This is not simply something for the Hall of Shame and an embarrassment to a community I call home, but a dereliction of responsibility.

Lack of civility

Frederick News Post
Bonnie Bailey-Baker and Claire Kondig
05/26/2012
The League of Women Voters of Frederick County has been concerned not only with an apparent lack of transparency in the decision-making process of the Board of County Commissioners, but also by the disrespect shown by a commissioner who referred to those who spoke against proposed budget cuts to nonprofit organizations as "whiners." Does this type of dismissive name-calling contribute to civility in the governmental process? We don't think so. Advocating for funding for nonprofit organizations that participate in a competitive grant process to provide significant services to the community is certainly not "whining." Nor were religious leaders "whining" when they shared how congregations were already supporting social services with funding and volunteer time, but that they are not capable of filling the gap left by the withdrawal of county funds. The league is also concerned that Frederick County will be the only county in Maryland that will not support grant funding to worthy nonprofit organizations. The LWVFC urges the commissioners to remember that they represent all of the citizens of Frederick County. And that's not "whining." That's just good government.

Thinking all about me

Frederick News Post
Jan Daffern
05/20/2012
I am a pastor and a mental health professional, but I am writing as a taxpayer. When I heard that the Board of County Commissioners had voted to send property owners a $100 refund, my response was, "I want all of my money back." Our commissioners tell us regularly that we are abused as taxpayers, and I am starting to believe that message. Maybe this citizenship business really is all about me. I believe a lot of people agree with me and long to be liberated from the burden of supporting programs and services we don't understand, don't personally choose and don't use. How could I have missed this point for so long? As citizens of Frederick County, we should be trusted to put our fair share into the specific projects we are passionate about. For me, they are public education, services for the vulnerable, children, the physically and mentally disabled, the elderly and the poor. I want more than a percentage of my tax dollars going to these programs; I want all of my tax dollars going to them and I want to write the checks myself. When I say public education, remember it is all about me, so I mean Frederick and Linganore high schools and their feeder schools -- because that's where my kids went. The rest of Frederick County citizens can take care of their own kids. My family had great teachers who are truly deserving of my money.

Young’s double standard

Frederick News Post
Jan Samet O'Leary
05/18/2012
Commissioners President Blaine Young contradicts his own argument in his May 11 commentary regarding the cuts in grants to certain Frederick County nonprofits. He says that "if a nonprofit provides a service that otherwise would be a part of the traditional range of services ... then I believe an appropriate level of government funding is appropriate ..." He then adduces the 10-plus percent of the non-Board of Education budget that is directed toward "grants-in-aid" programs, which he calls "community support," and lists a number of programs that receive such aid. Evidently these fall within his notion of "traditional" services; otherwise, why suggest that support for them is acceptable? I fail to see how the missions and services of the organizations whose grants have been cut, and are in peril of being reduced to zero next year, differ in any meaningful way from the agencies that continue to receive county support. Is the work of the Mental Health Association, the Boys and Girls Clubs, Heartly House, the Alzheimer's Association, the ARC of Frederick County, Advocates for Homeless Families, and the American Red Cross (just a few of the organizations to be cut) so different from that of the Child Advocacy Center, the Scott Key Center, our county senior centers, the Office for Children and Families, the Housing Department, and others that Young favors? C'mon, Blaine, you can't have it both ways.

Young's double standard

Frederick News Post
Jan Samet O'Leary
05/18/2012
Commissioners President Blaine Young contradicts his own argument in his May 11 commentary regarding the cuts in grants to certain Frederick County nonprofits. He says that "if a nonprofit provides a service that otherwise would be a part of the traditional range of services ... then I believe an appropriate level of government funding is appropriate ..." He then adduces the 10-plus percent of the non-Board of Education budget that is directed toward "grants-in-aid" programs, which he calls "community support," and lists a number of programs that receive such aid. Evidently these fall within his notion of "traditional" services; otherwise, why suggest that support for them is acceptable? I fail to see how the missions and services of the organizations whose grants have been cut, and are in peril of being reduced to zero next year, differ in any meaningful way from the agencies that continue to receive county support. Is the work of the Mental Health Association, the Boys and Girls Clubs, Heartly House, the Alzheimer's Association, the ARC of Frederick County, Advocates for Homeless Families, and the American Red Cross (just a few of the organizations to be cut) so different from that of the Child Advocacy Center, the Scott Key Center, our county senior centers, the Office for Children and Families, the Housing Department, and others that Young favors? C'mon, Blaine, you can't have it both ways.

Commissioners shouldn’t phase out nonprofit partnerships

Gazette
05/03/2012
In cutting the funding Frederick County provides to nonprofits that serve the needy and disabled, the Board of County Commissioners is endangering a useful partnership with the private sector that can save the county money

Budget baloney

Frederick News Post
John Gardner
04/18/2012
It is time for the truth about the county budget. Since Blaine Young has been in office, the county budget has grown. Contrary to the rhetoric, the budget has grown, spending has increased, and so has the size of government!

Honesty, deceit and Chicken Little

Frederick News Post
John Helms
04/08/2012
Commissioner Blaine Young and his allies began their terms talking about the structural deficit. They said things were so bad that they were forced to cut expenses including firing or eliminating staff. Over 175 positions including professional firefighters were ripped from the base of those providing needed services, cutting $8.4 million. They crippled the Head Start program to the tune of $2.3 million. They reduced payments to nonprofit and noncounty agencies by $350,000 and they reduced pay and benefits for employees (including nurses) at the Citizens and Montevue centers to the tune of $625,000 per year. The sky is falling, watch out for the structural deficit! When they thought we weren't looking, they danced with the ones that brung 'em to the dance (good ol' boy language for the Frederick Chamber of Commerce and the Frederick County Builders Association). They dropped the excise tax rate to zero, saving the developers an estimated $925,000 a year. They reduced permitting fees paid by builders by approximately $500,000 per year. In addition they went right to work on a list of over 200 changes given to them by the builders and developers to fix rules and regulations they didn't like or that cost them too much money. Some warned what was happening.

Frederick County commissioner: Budget process is ‘phony’

Structural deficit no longer a hot topic; Young says it’s still a big deal
Gazette
Katherine Heerbrandt
04/05/2012
“The structural deficit was made up to justify firings and anything else Blaine wanted to do,” he said. “… It was phony. I don’t know if it is ignorance or on purpose, but it served the purpose of scaring people.”

The final chapter?

Shreve suggests shuttering Walkersville library
Frederick News Post
Pete McCarthy and Courtney Pomeroy
03/02/2012
Building a new library in Walkersville would put Frederick County on the hook for a $6.1 million tab, and at least one county commissioner is asking whether there is a cheaper alternative. Commissioner Billy Shreve has proposed dropping the new construction and merging the town's Frederick County Public Libraries branch with the Walkersville Middle School library. "My thought is why not just expand the library in the school," Shreve said Thursday. "One of the things we have to look at in these budget times is how we spend taxpayer dollars." The commissioners are reviewing the five-year Capital Improvements Plan -- a document that outlines future construction projects for the county. Building a 15,250-square-foot library does not sound like a priority, Shreve said.

Frederick County siphons recordation tax revenue from ag land preservation, parks projects

Frederick News Post
Bethany Rodgers
11/09/2011
County officials decided to buy some wiggle room last week with money previously bound for farm preservation and parks projects. On Nov. 1, four commissioners voted to change the way Frederick County divvies up its recordation tax, which is estimated to generate more than $19 million this fiscal year. The tax is levied when property changes hands and a deed is recorded.