From: William G. Shimek
David Hooper's letter, "Bucolic reality check," Dec. 8, concerning the preservation work of the Harford Land Trust complains of "terminal do-gooderism" and suggests that people "buy a farm, go to work, and get an overdose of reality."
For anyone attempting to do so, a harsher reality would strike first: Nobody intending to make agriculture a sole source of income can afford to buy land in this county. Prices have been bid so high that developers are almost the only buyersof farmland. This means that rural land will continue to surrender to housing developments, and that efforts such as those of the HarfordLand Trust are necessary to save some of it.
Since the work of the Land Trust involves landowners in actions that are entirely voluntary, the only people that might feel threatened by it are those who profit from land development. Even among these, the enlightened ones realize that it is the rural character of the county that makes it appealing to home buyers.
Preservation is also important for property taxpayers. Harford County has not conducted a professional study of the amount by which the cost of residential development in rural areasexceeds the tax revenue it generates, but two other Maryland counties have. Both St. Mary's County and Carroll County found a net cost for each new house of more than $9,000 for capital costs alone (this does not even take into consideration recurring operating and maintenance expenses, such as road crews, teachers' salaries and bus drivers).Property taxes are the county's only source of funds to cover these costs.
There are still rural areas in Harford County that have remained virtually unchanged for a century and a half. If trying to preserve some of our heritage without confiscating equity from landownersis "do-gooderism," I volunteer. Protecting the environment and holding down property taxes are only side benefits.
The Harford Land Trust deserves our support.
COUNCIL HURTS BUSINESS
From: Carl D. Rogers
I have waited, and to my amazement there has been no outrage by the voters or County Council, with the exception of Councilman Robert S. Wagner. I watched our voters get up in arms over a possible shopping center in Forest Hill and on Interstate 95. Yet, when Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson writes a letter insulting a good neighbor, the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., our highest taxpayer and a potential of several million more in taxes, as well as more jobs,and he recommends that it be given to competition and built in another county, not a peep was heard from taxpayers. He then has the gall to say he sees nothing wrong with having the competition's lobbyist to deliver the letter. I say if it looks, smells, and acts like a fishit just might be a fish.
I know he said it was his personal opinion, if so, why didn't he just sign his name or as a minister he couldhave used reverend. Yet, he used his title as president of the County Council. Once he did this, it meant he was representing all of the people of Harford County.
I, for one, don't want him representing this as my views. At the rate he is going, we could very well not have any businesses or a county left by the end of his first term. Let'slook at his record so far.
1. As council president, he is supposed to lead the council. One of the major jobs is the budget review. There was nothing wrong with the advisers that were appointed. It was just no leadership from the council president. The budget review was afarce. I believe he and some council people should have had a dictionary to look up the meaning of the words budget and adviser.
2. Hecame out that all county employees should be forced to join a union and pay union dues. This takes away the right to work by employees, but it does not make for possible union votes and PAC money for elections.
3. They passed a tree bill which will cost the taxpayers thousands in the future. Time was used for a bill to save the rain forest. I didn't know Harford County had a rain forest. They did allow builders up to 20,000 more homes to be exempt from the tree bill. That isa
lot of trees lost and also could be lots of PAC money.
4. Hehas raised the tax assessment from 6 to 10 percent. This will cost the homeowners another $50 a year.
5. They now want to charge $60-a-ton dumping fee. This is a tax bill to raise several million dollarsa year buried as a recycling bill. It will cost homeowners another $130 per year plus higher cost of all merchandise purchased in HarfordCounty because of the higher fees to commercial businesses which must be passed on.