Tax-and-Spend Doesn't Work The Candidates Speak Out

October 25, 1994|By ROGER B. HAYDEN

It's as true in life as it is in business: Nothing ever stands still. Regardless of how things appear, they're always moving forward or backward, getting better or getting worse.

And here's another truism: In order to keep important things (or governmental services) moving forward and getting better, we must be prepared to either spend more money or provide the services in a much smarter, more economical way.

Finally, we arrive at the ultimate governmental truism for modern day Baltimore County: Our citizens are already contributing the maximum they can contribute for the services they need. If anything, in the years ahead, they will require even greater services at the same or lower cost.

In a nutshell, these are the challenges facing Baltimore County for at least the next 25 years, and each can be applied to the most critical areas of governmental involvement in our lives. They apply to public safety services, educational services, environmental services, economic-development efforts and all attempts to preserve our infrastructure.

The old way of dealing with these types of challenges in Baltimore County and elsewhere has been simply to tax and spend, and that approach, quite frankly, was not particularly responsible or efficient, even during our boom years of economic growth. With no affront intended, it was the solution of choice for most prior county executives and for old-line politicians such as my opponent.

The problem is: It still doesn't work.

Our citizens want government to be run like a business. They want more for less, and I believe that's not only possible, but precisely what they deserve. In fact, that's precisely why I ran for county executive in 1990 and am seeking re-election to a final term this year.

Unlike the typical career politician who would stop at just this point after defining the problem, I'll now share with you the solution. It's called ''community conservation'' and it is what my next four years as county executive will be all about.

Community conservation is neither a new county agency nor a specific new county program. It is an approach to preserving our wonderful older communities that uses the resources and cooperation of every county agency. Rather than costing money, it ultimately saves money. And it preserves the integrity and uniqueness of those special places where we grew up and still live.

Subcommittees are currently at work on our top five priority areas. They include: public safety; education; health, aging, housing and social services; infrastructure, environment, recreation and public facilities; and community-based government. The final subject to be studied, employment and business expansion and creation, is currently under discussion with the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce.

I have given specific instructions to staff working on this project that any plan submitted to me for approval must be formulated within the fiscal realities and constraints of our government. Major steps must be simply and clearly defined so as to be understood by our citizens, and accountability and deadlines must be set.

While the thrust of this program is aimed at the upcoming four years, significant actions have already begun. Just last month, for instance, our Police Department announced a decentralization and restructuring program which significantly increased authority at the eight local precincts. This action enables our police to work more in partnership with the county's widespread and diverse communities.

Also, our Community Conservation Action Grant Program introduced this summer with the help of a generous matching grant from the Weinberg Foundation has funded 49 local improvement projects which citizens' groups requested to meet specific local needs. Our citizens not only helped manage this process, but are providing a portion of the overall cost through matching labor and materials.

The clear message I have received in my regular face-to-face discussions with county citizens is that we in government must put our own house in order. In response, I have aggressively begun to make our government more businesslike, efficient, accountable, open and helpful, and above all, more responsive to citizens' needs.

What we are proposing for the next four years is the creation of a new, equitable and inclusive social contract among government, business and community, within which we shall work together to meet our complex and diverse needs. With the support of our citizens and their commitment to a jointly devised set of common goals and implementation strategies, I know our efforts will be successful.

Roger B. Hayden is the Republican candidate for Baltimore County executive.

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