Mind your constituents

Frederick News Post
Ellen Kreis
06/24/2012
In regard to the pending changes to the MARC train schedule, Delegate Michael Hough is no doubt correct in his assessment that his train-riding constituents likely share his chagrin about the later arrival times of the Brunswick line trains. What concerns me, however, is the way he would like MARC to remedy this problem by eliminating the smaller stops in Montgomery County. If Delegate Hough were more concerned about his constituents and less about his personal inconvenience as a rider from Brunswick, he'd be aware that a good percentage of the folks that utilize two of the smaller Montgomery County stations actually reside in Frederick County.

An ear to the ground on Frederick land use decisions

Gazette
Danielle Elaine Manos
06/21/2012
How can Commissioner Blaine Young expect to run for governor when the state is already concerned with how he runs our county? A recent letter from the Maryland Department of Planning to our county commissioners is very telling ( “State again condemns county's land-use plan,” June 1), as they are concerned that our board of commissioners did not give the public enough time to form an opinion over their new rezoning plan, which could have a monumental impact on our wallets, our landscape, our schools and more. I cannot say if I am for or against this new plan, but by the time the public learns of its impacts it will be too late. If Commissioner Young does not allow constituents within his own county to adequately participate in decision-making, how can we expect him to run Maryland with the state’s best interest in mind?”

WTE and electricity pricing

Ellis Burruss
06/17/2012
One of the most basic rules of business is to buy products at wholesale for less than they are to be sold at retail. That's how profits are made. However, the people who are proposing to build a so-called "waste-to-energy" (WTE) incinerator in Frederick are basing their financial projections on selling electricity in 2015 at 8.3 cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh). They are planning on a wholesale price that is much higher than the current retail price. Look at your most recent electric bill from Potomac Edison and you'll see that the retail price of electricity as of June 1 is 6.02 cents per kwh. The price will drop to 5.9 cents per kwh in October. Yes, electricity prices are going down.

Shreve FCC proposal bad on all counts

Frederick News Post
Kristin Hillers
06/12/2012
The system of higher education has enough financial troubles without the contributions of County Commissioner Billy Shreve and his proposal for a tiered tuition rate system for Frederick Community College.
Tagged in: , , ,

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.

City planners’ misplaced priorities

Frederick News Post
Janice Wiles
05/23/2013
The planning commissioners should first and foremost be discussing costs -- costs of new roads, schools, fire station, water, sewer -- and how to pay for what could add up to billions of dollars if done adequately. Costs that have yet to be calculated for either this parcel or the 282-acre Crum parcel annexed three years ago. Yet the planning commission is already discussing home placement and sidewalk layout!

City planners' misplaced priorities

Frederick News Post
Janice Wiles
05/23/2013
The planning commissioners should first and foremost be discussing costs -- costs of new roads, schools, fire station, water, sewer -- and how to pay for what could add up to billions of dollars if done adequately. Costs that have yet to be calculated for either this parcel or the 282-acre Crum parcel annexed three years ago. Yet the planning commission is already discussing home placement and sidewalk layout!

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.

Wrongheaded suggestion

Frederick News Post
Bob White
05/17/2012
Frederick County Commissioner Billy Shreve's suggestion for reverse bidding on properties seeking agricultural preservation funding possibly could save the county some money. However, as with many of the cuts and changes in county programs made by this board, it seems to reflect only a desire to appear to save money ... and no consideration for the intent of the program.

Not happy with New Market plan

Frederick News Post
Robert Schaefer
05/09/2012
The affidavits provided by experts doing careful analysis of Mayor Burhans' Municipal Growth Element for New Market show that this plan would saddle existing residents with a huge bill for a bypass that will destroy local character and do nothing to alleviate traffic (and only add more, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation). The proposed bypass would cut along the edge of the 140-acre Fred Archibald Audubon Sanctuary, bisecting the Cherry Run mature forest

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!

Carroll BoCC smarter than Frederick BoCC?

(Better to proceed with caution rather than risk incurring what could prove to be a crushing financial obligation.)
Frederick News Post
Nick Carrera
04/04/2012
Questions have been raised about the financial justification for the Frederick-Carroll county incinerator. The Board of Carroll County Commissioners responded by holding a solid waste forum to explore all waste options. Now, the president of their board has formed a Solid Waste Advisory Group to study all possibilities for handling solid waste.

Annexation facts

Frederick News Post
Janice Wiles
03/18/2012
In Sunday's (March 4) letter regarding the Crum and Thatcher annexations and development the author says, "I feel if built as advertised it should help traffic and give added tax base to both the city and the county." I don't know what advertising the author refers to, but wish to provide some facts to the story -- so that citizens know the truth about Frederick city's northern development that might not be as transparent as the advertising.

Fact checking ‘WTE 101, continued’

Frederick News Post
Karin Tome
11272011
If Harvey Alter were graded on his Nov. 17 commentary ("WTE 101, continued"), he wouldn't receive a very high score. It's not what he said, but what he didn't say. The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority will issue bonds to pay for the proposed trash incinerator, but the county is obligated (through a separate contract with NMWDA) to make regular payments to them, such as you would for your mortgage. The county's System Benefit Charge is not "so-called," but very real. As a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Alter knows very well that the primary revenue for this business operation is based both on tipping fees and the SBC fee (which is found on residential and commercial property tax bills and can be raised without limit.) If the revenue from tipping and SBC fees, and the electricity sales and ferrous metal recovery don't cover those expenses, county residents will have to make up the difference through higher SBCs. Alter states that "... anecdotal evidence from around the country is that communities with WTE recycle more" and "Recycling and WTE together conserve and recover more resources than either alone." That statement is true only where recycling is at a very low level and the tonnage of ash (if used for landfill daily cover) and ferrous metal found in the ash are counted as recycling. However, as recycling increases it will compete with incineration, especially for plastics and paper. We could spend, however, a fraction of the cost of the incinerator on alternative ways to divert waste from the landfill (such as a commercial compost facility or manned recycling centers throughout the county (in addition to Reich's Ford Road) and we'd be able to recover many more resources and conserve more energy than would be produced by burning them. For example: Manufacturing a ton of newspaper from trees takes 11,699 kilowatt hours; if that ton of paper is recycled, a new ton of paper can be made using only 6,442 kWh, but if it's burned it only produces 1,875 kWh of electricity.

Fact checking 'WTE 101, continued'

Frederick News Post
Karin Tome
11272011
If Harvey Alter were graded on his Nov. 17 commentary ("WTE 101, continued"), he wouldn't receive a very high score. It's not what he said, but what he didn't say. The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority will issue bonds to pay for the proposed trash incinerator, but the county is obligated (through a separate contract with NMWDA) to make regular payments to them, such as you would for your mortgage. The county's System Benefit Charge is not "so-called," but very real. As a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Alter knows very well that the primary revenue for this business operation is based both on tipping fees and the SBC fee (which is found on residential and commercial property tax bills and can be raised without limit.) If the revenue from tipping and SBC fees, and the electricity sales and ferrous metal recovery don't cover those expenses, county residents will have to make up the difference through higher SBCs. Alter states that "... anecdotal evidence from around the country is that communities with WTE recycle more" and "Recycling and WTE together conserve and recover more resources than either alone." That statement is true only where recycling is at a very low level and the tonnage of ash (if used for landfill daily cover) and ferrous metal found in the ash are counted as recycling. However, as recycling increases it will compete with incineration, especially for plastics and paper. We could spend, however, a fraction of the cost of the incinerator on alternative ways to divert waste from the landfill (such as a commercial compost facility or manned recycling centers throughout the county (in addition to Reich's Ford Road) and we'd be able to recover many more resources and conserve more energy than would be produced by burning them. For example: Manufacturing a ton of newspaper from trees takes 11,699 kilowatt hours; if that ton of paper is recycled, a new ton of paper can be made using only 6,442 kWh, but if it's burned it only produces 1,875 kWh of electricity.

WTE will make our county sick

Frederick News Post
Nicole Orr
11/05/211
am still befuddled by the fact that this WTE idea is still moving forward. It's not only about the estimated $1 billion that will be spent to build, fix, retrofit and maintain the thing. It's also about finding 1,500 tons of trash a day to feed it. Burning garbage to produce energy is highly inefficient. Recycling recovers three to five times more energy than incineration produces. Once that can, bottle or newspaper is burned, its life cycle is over. Modern technology has enabled us to reuse our natural resources. Burning them is taking a huge step in the wrong direction. Americans are recycling more, manufacturers are touting their green products made from recycled materials and the federal government has enacted Executive Order 13101 -- Greening the Government Through Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Federal Acquisition. We are teaching our kids to reduce, reuse, recycle, and they are. This Board of Frederick County Commissioners is building a machine that does not account for the level of waste reduction we will achieve in the future.