County Officials Travel To Hear Residents' Priorities

Sessions Seek Input, Conclude Tonight At Southern High

September 26, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

County officials heard from a breed of resident they thought had become extinct: someone who was willing to pay higher taxes for more services.

Alice Thorne, a member of the county library board of trustees, said Tuesday night that she wanted the county to spend more on libraries and social services for the elderly.

"If you're going to do all these things, we're going to have to have a tax increase," Thorne said. "I don't like higher taxes, but we are going to need a tax increase."

About 50 residents who attendedthe meeting at Northeast High School politely applauded.

The hearing was the third of four County Executive Robert R. Neall is conducting to hear residents' views on budget priorities. The final meeting will be tonight at Southern High School. Department heads and other county employees will be available to discuss concerns beginning at 6 p.m. The public hearing will begin at 7:30.

Sixteen residents spoke at Tuesday's hearing. All wanted more services; only one spoke against increasing spending.

Several speakers wanted the county to build a public library on the Long Point peninsula, an idea first proposed by residents in 1984. Neall is in the process of appointing a committee to study the issue, but Library Administrator Ed Hall has said he doesn't want to take on a new library while his operating budget is frozen.

"We need a library in the Mountain Road corridor like never before," Jean Tate of Pasadena said.

Other residents wanted the county to do something about crowded and run-down public schools.

Board of Education member Thomas Twombly of Pasadena asked the county to increase the amount of money it spends on school capital projects. For example, he said, the county needs to replace 30 roofs on schools but is doing so at a rate of only four a year.

Carolyn Roeding, president of the countywide PTA, asked for $500,000 to build sidewalks near school bus stops.

Gail Trettel of Pasadena wanted the county to do something about High Point elementary school, one of the most crowded in the county. To use restrooms, pupils must leave portable classrooms toreturn to the main building. The gym can't be used because the roof leaks.

"It's not a safe situation," said Trettel, who volunteers at the school.

Geraldine Meluh of Orchard Beach, speaking for a group of elderly residents, asked the county to turn the area's old firehouse into a senior center.

"We've all owned our property for more than 35 years," Meluh said. "We often find it tough to get out of the community."

Other residents spoke in favor of building a proposed golf course on an old horse farm on Fort Smallwood Road, increasing recreation programs for children, restoring gifted and talented student programs and improving strained child abuse services.

The number of child abuse cases in the county has doubled in the last 10 years, the Rev. David Asplin of Severn said.

Some residents wanted the county to monitor the dredging of Rock Creek so nearby property owners would be protected from environmental and health hazards. The dredged material will be dumped on the old Fort Smallwood horse farm.

Janet Brown of Pasadena, a physician, asked county schools to hire nurses.

"We're the only school system in the Baltimore metropolitan area that doesn't have a school nurse program," she said. "What do you think happens if your child is injured or needs a narcotic administered? An untrained secretary does it."

Sam Brice, acity of Annapolis engineer, was the lone speaker railing against county spending.

"In the past 15 years, my property taxes have increased from $1,000 to $8,000," Brice said. "Have my services gone up eight times? No."

Brice said the county should either build long-planned capital projects or forget them. He said that recycling programs don't pay for themselves because there is no market for recyclables and that the county should plan for the closure of the Millersville landfill.

He also criticized school spending, saying no organization"could have the kind of record the Board of Education has and still survive."

Neall said he hopes to have meetings in local communities regularly to hear residents' concerns. He called the program Operation County Seat.

"We're going to move the county out every now andthen to a community," Neall said.

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