Ecker never disguised trash feeIt is time to set the...

Letters

June 23, 1996

Ecker never disguised trash fee

It is time to set the record straight. I have waited, patiently I might add, until the Howard County operating and capital budgets were officially adopted by the Howard County Council before writing this letter to the editor on the issue of the trash fee -- a fee that some have complained was disguised.

From the outset, the county executive made it very clear to the residents that, in effect, the trash fee was an increase in taxes. He appointed a task force to review revenue options and he chaired four public hearings on this particular issue last year.

In fact, the budget message by the county executive to the County Council both in writing and in the public forum clearly acknowledges that the charge does represent a tax increase. Although he had hoped to reduce property tax rate by four cents, the executive realized he would not have been able to accomplish funding the maintenance of effort for the Board of Education and other critically needed programs. Thus, the state would not have provided its full share of education funding, causing serious concern for the Board of Education.

The county executive carefully and deliberately pondered over the issue of how to pay for the rapidly increasing costs of trash removal. There are no easy answers. Ultimately, he recognized that the residents of Howard County must be responsible for how they treat the environment. While residents are responsible for their private actions, they also have civic responsibilities which include how they use or abuse the environment. The trash fee is the first step toward making residents accountable for their behavior and, in turn, how that behavior affects the environment.

I hope I have set the record straight. The county executive never disguised the $125,000 trash fee. Quite frankly, anyone familiar with Chuck Ecker realizes he really wouldn't know how to do such a thing.

Raquel Sanudo

Ellicott City

The writer is chief administrative officer for Howard County.

Drivers put speed above children

After reading Shanon D. Murray's article, "Neighbors united by worry after loss of road divider," in the June 10 Sun for Howard, I emphathize with those Gray Rock/Dorsey Hall residents who fear an increase in traffic through their community.

By the same token, I am relieved that the Gray Rock barrier has finally been removed. This decision should somewhat alleviate the nightmarish traffic problem we residents of Font Hill Manor/Dunmor Woods have endured while the Gray Rock Drive barrier remained in place.

Residents of all four of these neighborhoods have long used Font Hill Drive as an alternative to Centennial Lane and Columbia Road, and have done so with reckless abandon. Motorists on this 25 mph street often double the posted limit, not just in the evening hours, but in the critical school crossing hours, one block from Centennial Lane Elementary.

Overtures within our neighborhood block association to have traffic calming humps installed on Font Hill Drive have traditionally been met with resistance. In November 1995, I advised neighborhood association committee members that I had been in contact with the Howard County Public Works Traffic Engineering Division, and asked that we have a representative come to our neighborhood to explain this process to us. I haven't heard from anyone yet. Naysayers have offered excuses such as "It makes it tough on the snow plows" and "Those humps keep me from going as fast as we like to."

Yeah, right. It is myopic of residents of these neighborhoods to place the safety of school children below their concern for snowplows and their need to travel this thoroughfare unencumbered. To the residents of Gray Rock/Dorsey Hall, you have fought the good fight. You are to be commended for your resolve. Welcome to the world of high-speed shortcutters.

For the residents of all four of these neighborhoods, it is time to recognize that the safety of our children is paramount, and invite a representative of the Traffic Engineering Office to your next neighborhood association meeting.

Joseph P. Dougherty

Ellicott City

Vicious film about Mother Teresa

I am writing to add my voice to those of other Catholics who are outraged at the Baltimore Museum Of Art's showing and Johns Hopkins University's sponsorship of Christopher Hitchens' vicious movie attacking Mother Teresa.

Although Mr. Hitchens' hatred of the Catholic Church in general and of Mother Teresa in particular is well known, more disturbing is the respectability being given to his anti-religious bigotry by the Baltimore Museum Of Art and the Johns Hopkins University. Particularly insulting is Mark Crispen-Miller's statement that he had chosen Mr. Hitchens' movie because it had been "suppressed."

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