In public hearings last week, an overwhelming majority of Howard County citizens urged against increasing the piggyback income tax. The county council and the county executive have done just that, choosing instead to levy a host of user fees and a tax on hotel and motel stays to keep services at existing levels. "I think the citizens of this county are already hard-hit with taxes," said Mr. Ecker. "I know this is a wealthy county, but we also have poor people and people on fixed incomes who can't afford to pay more taxes."
At this point, Howard appears suitably nimble to get by without one. While nothing to write home about, the spending plan for the 12 months beginning July 1 is modestly robust. Services are not only being maintained, but in some cases expanded. There's money to stock two new libraries and to significantly expand curb-side recycling. The Board of Education will be able to maintain current class sizes and put necessary personnel into two new schools slated to open next year. Most county workers and teachers will get small raises of about 2.5 percent.