Linowes: It's Not His Burden
Editor: This letter is to comment on the Linowes Commission's recommendation for personal property taxes on cars and boats (The Sun, Jan. 6).
There is no doubt that the State of Maryland needs to increase revenues to remain solvent. To do so by levying a personal-property tax on cars and boats is an easy but unfair way to do this.
The revenue from the tax on cars and trucks would be used for highway maintenance and improvements and since cars and trucks do contribute directly to deterioration of highways, it is logical for those who use the highways to pay for their upkeep.
It is not logical, however, to calculate the amount each must pay based on the value of the vechicle he or she drives. This ignores the fact that it is the weight of a vehicle and the miles driven and not the vehicle's value that contributes to wear and tear on the roadways. Revenues for highway projects should be raised in such a way that those who cause the most wear pay the most toward the inevitable repairs.
On the subject of boats, the revenue from the proposed tax is intended to be used for Chesapeake Bay cleanup. Boats, whether they be pleasure or commercial, large of small, do not contribute significantly to the deterioration of bay water quality. The costs of bay cleanup should be borne by those who cause pollution. Wastewater treatment plants, industrial discharges, stormwater outlets and runoff from agricultural land and construction sites are the major contributor to bay pollution.
Generating revenue from those who cause non-point source pollution (run-off from agricultural land, for example) would be difficult since there is no simple way to equitably determine how much each waterfront landowner must pay. In addition, the Critical Area Commission established a 1,000-foot-wide buffer that surrounds the tidal waters of Chesapeake Bay which will, in time, reduce pollutants from this source.
Point sources of pollution, such as industrial or municipal outfalls, however, represent a logical source of revenue for bay clean-up. These sources are responsible for a great deal of the pollutants entering Chesapeake Bay, and they are largely controlled by a system of discharge permits.
Would it not be logical to generate revenues for bay cleanup through a system of fees based on the quality and quality of wastes discharged into the bay and not on the state's estimate of the value of a pleasure or commercial vessel?
In this current climate of accountability, should we not hold those responsible for creating a mess also responsible for cleaning it up? It would be wrong to penalize recreational boaters or commercial watermen for the sins of industries and municipalities just as it would be wrong to raise revenue for highway maintenance based on the value of the vehicles using those highways.
John V. Martin.
Exploiting the War
Editor: Am I alone in my disgust in how some of the networks and local news stations have exploited to the hilt the current crisis/war in the Middle East? Those people who are less journalists than they are TV personalities (i.e. ''Friends You Can Turn to . . .'') ought to keep in mind that they are covering a war, complete with death and destruction, and not some Super Bowl. They can keep their glitzy graphics and flare for drama and just give us the facts. Isn't that what journalism is supposed to be?
Editor: The proposed state growth management program, known as 2020, is under attack by the Maryland Farm Bureau.
The 1991 Farm Bureau Policy Zoning Issue states, ''Any change in zoning or regulations that would cause loss of equity in land shall provide for just compensation to the landowner.'' Why?
Zoning changes would affect only a farm for sale. A farm sold for development is no longer a farm.
There are no guarantees in a free market enterprise; not in real estate, merchandise, stocks and bonds, art work, antiques or any other assets.
The 2020 program will ensure the existence of rural areas. The JTC Farm Bureau should support it.
Claire B. Mulford.
Longer Work Week
Editor: I am writing to condemn a recent action by the governor.
He signed an executive order increasing the state employees' work week from 35.5 to 40 hours. This is but the insulting culmination of a series of concessions already exacted by the governor.
Historically, the state employees accepted a shorter work week in lieu of pay raises necessary to keep up with inflation. As recently reported, the state's pay scale is about 15 percent below that of the private sector. To make ends meet, many state employees work second jobs. Extending their work day will only make getting to those jobs harder, especially since they will now be fighting (and contributing to) rush-hour traffic.
Also, finding day care will be made even more difficult and expensive because they have to pick the children up later in the day.