Tax cap foe portrayed as a government front F.A.C.T. group denies charge

October 13, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A group fighting the tax cap measure on this fall's election ballot is an arm of government employee unions masquerading as a citizens' group, the author of that measure charged yesterday.

"The driving force behind F.A.C.T. (Fairness For All County Taxpayers) is the combined government-union grouping of special interests that have a vested interest in seeing this thing defeated," complained Robert C. Schaeffer, president of the Anne Arundel Taxpayers Association.

F.A.C.T. was created in 1984 in Prince George's County to fight a tax cap proposal, then revived in Anne Arundel County in 1990 and 1992 to fight similar measures, he said.

But leaders of the group deny his charges.

F.A.C.T. is a "cross section of the community," formed to fight the tax cap because of its potential impact on the quality of county schools, police, fire, roads and other services, said Carole Baker, the former county councilwoman who formed the group two years ago.

"I think Mr. Schaeffer has a problem with his facts, no pun intended," she said.

Mrs. Baker said although the group shares the same name as that of its Prince George's counterpart, they are not working together.

She added that "maybe one in 10" members of the group work for the county government or school board.

The group's leaders include JoAnn Tollenger, an employee of Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland and school board member; Michael Rindskopf, a retired rear admiral from Severna Park who is on the county library board of trustees; Robert Kramer, a former state delegate and private consultant; and Florence Beck Kurdle, former county planning officer who works for a real estate developer.

The measure the taxpayers' group petitioned to the ballot would limit the annual increase in county revenue to 4.5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is smaller.

Similar measures were defeated in 1990 in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties after concerted efforts by teachers' groups, government officials and others.

Mr. Schaeffer said that this time around, government officials who want to take a stand on the issue should identify themselves instead of working with a group and "pretending to be something they're not.

"People have a right to know who it is that's fighting this issue," he said.

Mrs. Baker said that F.A.C.T. leaders met with County Executive Robert R. Neall, but they have no working relationship with him or other government officials.

"I think Mr. Schaeffer's a little paranoid," she said.

Louise Hayman, a spokesman for Mr. Neall, said the tax cap was discussed at one cabinet meeting, and the budget office is estimating the impact the tax cap would have on the county's finances.

But she said that although Mr. Neall opposes the tax cap, there is no concerted effort by his administration to defeat it.

"I think he's going to have more to say on it as time goes on, but we're not going to see any slick information campaign," she said.

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