The problem with Question D is that it's either devastating or insignificant. If it's devastating, we're all in for cuts in vital services. If it's insignificant, we've all been had!
Either way, I can't support it.
The effects would be devastating if the county didn't have enough money to maintain existing services, let alone keep up with a growing population.
Undoing this terrible mistake could take years and bring the county to the brink of financial disaster.
If the effects are insignificant, the proponents have sold us a bill of goods and have given aggrieved taxpayers nothing.
If Question D would make significant cuts in taxes, the real winners would be Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., Westinghouse Electric Corp., Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. and Marley Station Mall. They would reap more than $4.5 million in tax savings over the next two years, while the average homeowner would save only $180 over the same period.
If Question D is insignificant, the result would still be a savings of $1.25 million in the first two years to those four companies, while the average homeowner would save only $50.
If Question D would have a major impact on taxes and revenues (and this could be decided in court), one needs only to look at other areas in the nation that have imposed similar limitations on themselves.
The most dramatic fallout has been in the classroom (class sizes mushroomed, extracurricular activities ceased, test scores fell), in public safety (police response time to emergencies soared, fire trucks were understaffed, fire losses increased), and roads deteriorated.
County budgeting is done by consensus. Some want this, others want that.
What we all want, though, is to live in a community where our children and our neighbors' children are well-educated, where it is safe to walk on our streets, where our fire stations are well-staffed and well-equipped, where we drive on good roads along tree-lined highways.
Is there waste in the county budget? I know there is!
But what I consider waste is what others consider essential services or needs. For example, eight years ago I opposed the $10 million hiker-biker trail, and yet today it is the most used of all county parks. Others regard it as essential. Who am I to say they are wrong?
In the final analysis, voters must ask themselves whether they understand Question D and all its ramifications and how much could this free lunch cost.
No one knows the answers, which is enough of a reason to vote against Question D.
Outgoing County Councilwoman Carole Baker, D-Severna Park, has represented District 5 for two terms. She heads the Citizen's Coalition for Fairness for All County Taxpayers.