A user fee for those with kids in public schoolAn open...

LETTERS

February 04, 1996

A user fee for those with kids in public school

An open letter to Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

I respectfully submit the following suggestions for your serious consideration:

We presently pay user taxes on water usage.

We presently pay user taxes on sewage.

We presently pay semi-user taxes on fire department service.

BGE bills are based on usage.

Telephone service bills are based on usage.

I suggest the following: Place a "cap" of 50 percent of expected Howard County annual revenue receipts on the education department budget. Any additional revenue needed by the education department would come from a user fee (i.e., tuition) on parents with children attending Howard County public schools.

This year's tax bill indicated the education department received 59 percent of that money (not including capital expenditures.)

This savings of 9 percent would eliminate any need for a tax increase and would cancel any layoffs of other county employees. Our police department needs to be strengthened and enlarged to handle the increased crime. Also, the firefighters, public works employees, etc., need a decent salary increase.

Kenneth H. Kummer

Ellicott City

Sale of Camp Ilchester explained

First, let me thank The Sun for its continuing interest in Girl Scouts of Central Maryland and particularly for the fine story on our program for daughters of incarcerated women (Dec. 17).

I would also like to comment on some points in your editorial of Dec. 21, regarding the sale of a portion of the camp land in Howard County. Girl Scouts owns camp property in Anne Arundel, Cecil and Howard counties. Our board of directors made a fiscally responsible decision to sell a portion of the Howard County land in order to help us acquire a new site for our Service Center.

This center is far from just an office facility. Were it so, we could certainly do with much less space. It is, however, a building that houses a large multi-purpose room where Girl Scout leaders can be trained -- we had some 9,000 course participants last year -- a library/resource center where our leaders and other volunteers can find materials and equipment for use in programs for girls, meeting rooms for committees and task groups and an enlarged store where volunteers and parents can find uniforms, handbooks and other items for their favorite Girl Scout. In short, we are seeking a larger site in order to provide new and expanded service and support to our volunteers.

As for sale of a smaller portion of the Howard County property, I can assure you that the sale could not have been completed for less than the 18.8 acres. Much of the land surrounding Camp Ilchester has already been sold to developers or is being developed into school sites.

Nevertheless, Girl Scouts will retain nearly 20 acres on which we will have the Clementine Peterson Program Center, a lodge for indoor overnight use, a new handicapped accessible nature trail and open space for day use. We will lose a tent camping site; however, we intend to clear poison ivy from another portion of the land in order to create a new tent camping area.

Lisa Lungaro Cid

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland.

Columbia Association must keep ColumBus

I would like to comment on the article in The Sun for Howard on Jan. 4 about the Columbia Council work session.

One Columbia Council representative suggested that the Columbia Association stop funding Columbia's public transportation system, ColumBus. There are several different groups of Columbia residents who would suffer from this decision.

When my two children were teen-agers, they had a certain amount of independence that they would not have had in another suburban community because they could use the bus. Some disabled people and elderly people need the bus because they cannot drive. Low-income people and people with only one car use ColumBus to get to work and to run errands. ColumBus might seem expendable to some Columbia residents, but to others, it is a necessity. Several years ago, the route that ColumBus uses in Harper's Choice was changed so that the bus no longer goes around Eliot's Oak Road and Hesperus Drive. I know many people who would like ColumBus to return to its old route and I agree with them.

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