Baltimore County at a Crossroads The Candidates Speak Out

October 25, 1994|By C.A. RUPPERSBERGER

I am running for county executive because I am seriously concerned about the future of Baltimore County. The county's image, once bright, is now tarnished. We continue to lose people and businesses. Our police and fire departments and our schools suffer from inadequate resources. Violent crime is higher than four years ago, yet we have fewer police officers today. Our schools are overcrowded, yet to return our classroom sizes to 1990 levels, we would need 683 more teachers.

Baltimore County is at a crossroads and desperately needs leadership to solve these problems. My nine years on the County Council, my two terms as its chairman, my experience as a prosecutor and chief of the investigative division of the state's attorney, my relationships as husband to a county teacher and parent to two children educated in county schools are qualifications for making the right decisions, working cooperatively with employees and the public, generating the revenues and managing the budget necessary to restore Baltimore County.

Few citizens feel safer today than they did four years ago. Many children are not obtaining the quality education that they deserve in the crowded classrooms of today. Few businesses feel the current administration has addressed their concerns or fostered an environment conducive to their growth, the attraction of new businesses, or the creation of new and better job opportunities. We have seen the effects of smaller government; we now need smarter government.

Baltimore County police are among the lowest-paid, poorest-equipped in the region. What has happened in our police department is criminal. As county executive, I will: (1) put more police officers on the street to levels established in an

independent study, by recruiting and retaining qualified police officers over a four-year period; (2) increase the number of police cars and improve maintenance; and (3) fund localized mobile headquarters for crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Baltimore County must approach its educational challenges openly and directly. Changes to the system and its administration will occur under my administration. As county executive, I will: (1) appoint a ''fiscal watchdog'' to oversee the education budget and use of funds to ensure that each dollar is properly spent; (2) support smaller class sizes, including the use of modular class rooms; (3) commence the timely and cost-efficient construction and repair of schools, and (4) develop a legislative agenda to ensure that Baltimore County receives a fair share of state monies for education.

With sound economic development comes the strong tax base enabling the county to provide those services its citizens expect. Yet under the current administration, our county has seen four economic- development directors. I will be the chief executive officer for our economic-development efforts. A positive business climate can be balanced with preservation of Baltimore County's natural, rural and agricultural resources.

As county executive, I will: (1) privatize economic development, enabling the private sector to invest in the growth of Baltimore County; (2) streamline unnecessary delays caused by county approval and regulatory processes; (3) expand our retraining efforts and the quality of new jobs; and (4) establish in the county executive's office representatives to facilitate the needs of existing and prospective businesses.

Over my nine years on the County Council, I have demonstrated my fiscal conservatism by cutting taxes, implementing spending cuts and taking a critical look at every budget. During my nine years on the council, property taxes have been reduced by 14 cents. I sponsored the 4 percent tax cap and co-sponsored spending-affordability and performance-audit legislation. But when critical governmental services required funding in 1992, I made sure that such services continued in part through a limited increase in the piggyback tax. And last year I resisted further tax cuts which I believed would be to the detriment of essential police and other services.

The next county executive must evaluate and implement strategies designed to do more with less. I will reduce county expenditures through aggressively streamlining government. I will implement a ''Gain-sharing'' program where every county employee has a stake in managing county operations efficiently. My program will recognize performance and allow employees to share in the financial benefits resulting from increased accountability, effectiveness and efficiency, at no cost to taxpayers. Gain-sharing will enable me to reallocate county revenues to our police and schools.

Working together, Baltimore County can be united and restored to be a great place in which to live, work, and raise a family.

C. A. ''Dutch'' Ruppersberger is the Democratic candidate for Baltimore County executive.

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