From: Alex Hekimian
Does the Columbia Association really care about the plight of Columbia's taxpayers during these difficult economic times? CA imposed tax increases of 30-40 percent on many homeowners in the east side of Columbia this past year.
Now, homeowners in the west side of Columbia are getting their assessment notices and will be hit with the same huge increases in 1992.
This is a time to ease the burdens of the many people who are hurting due to the area's economic crisis. Manyresidents are foregoing salary increases, being furloughed or facinglayoffs. People feel that it is obscene for CA to be gouging Columbia's homeowners at times like this.
The Alliance for a Better Columbia feels that it's high time for CA to wake up, become sensitive to the excessive burden on taxpayers, and give residents a break on their annual taxes.
It's time to cull out CA's costly and frivolous pet projects from the budget and put a 5 percent cap on assessment increases each year, as the county government has done.
We would expect our CA representatives to show sufficient sensitivity to approve a 5 percent cap on homeowners' tax increases. However, if they turn their backs on this proposal, ABC will step up its efforts to mobilize the community and use other means for ending CA's tax windfalls.
Residents who object to CA's tax increases, want to calculate how they may have been overcharged, and are interested in receiving a refund in the event CA is required to reimburse homeowners should send a noteto ABC, P.O. Box 735, Columbia, Md. 21045, or call 730-2583 for moredetails.
Editor's note: The writer is the president of Alliance for a Better Columbia.
PAYING MORE, VIEWING LESS
From: J. A. Einkdaddie
An open letter to Howard Cable Television:
I am quite sure I am but one of the many who write this useless, yet inevitable "Dear Howard Cable letter" at the start of each new year, but once again, you have raised our rates. I think it's time for aninside view.
Last year, 1991, our rates were raised from $17.95 to $19.99. with the promise of a fiber optics run for improved picturequality, as well as the addition of two new channels, VH1 and TNN.
Great, two new channels!
Unfortunately, I soon discovered that Iwas unable to receive these new channels with my current "basic set top converter," that I needed to have an "addressable converter."
What a surprise to find out it was an additional $5 a month.
However, I would get an added bonus -- access to Pay Per View. This brought my bill from $17.95 to $24.99 for two more channels, but I still had bad reception. Where's that fiber optic run coming from, Japan?
This year, 1992, you raised the rate from $19.99 to $22.25 with the promise of yet a few more channels -- The Nostalgia Network, A Sneak Prevue Channel -- as well as two extra Pay Per View Channels.
Once again, to receive any of these additional channels you need that ever-so-popular addressable converter box, so anyone who hung out in 1991with their basic set top converter will now have to pay $27.25 to receive the new channels in 1992.
I think an almost $10 increase from $17.99 to $27.25 for six new channels is a little much, and I stillhave poor reception.
Have we crossed the Pacific with that fiber optic run yet?
May I take a moment to delve into the ingenuity of Pay Per View? Once again, you need that $5-a-month converter box to order a $3.95 movie, for two hours, to watch in the privacy of your own home.
Now, if I go to my local video store, rent one of the samemovies that is running on Pay Per View, for $3.50 for three nights, with the knowledge that I know this video tape will not be interrupted by a cable outage, won't I be watching it in the privacy of my own home?
Hey, what about those cable outages? I realize cable television is a luxury that I choose to pay, and pay, and pay more for, but you consider yourself a utility company.
C&P and BG&E are utility companies, but 9 out of 10 times when I flick my light switch, I get power. And 9 out of 10 times when I turn on my TV, ooops, nothing.
I must however, commend you on your consistency. Every time I had the pleasure to call your office to inquire why once again I cannot watch my television, I get an ever-so-friendly representative that tellsme: "Yes, we are aware of the outage in your area, technicians are on their way, and we are working on it."
Well that's reassuring, I would hate to think you were on your way not to work on it.
While you're working, did we get that fiber optic run to the States yet?
What about county intervention? Howard Cable Television pays a 5 percent franchise fee of total subscriber revenue to the county every year.
Hey, County Executive Ecker, with all that time you're spending cutting the budgets of our county schools, parks and service facilities, have you had any time to watch cable television lately? If you had, most likely it was during an outage.
I know, I know, they're working on it.