A letter in Sunday's edition from County Commissioner W...

LETTERS

March 02, 1997

A letter in Sunday's edition from County Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown included an editing error. The letter should have read: "I had argued for a different approach, but not as doggedly nor as publicly as I should have. The better approach would have been, and still would be, to have a smaller tax increase dedicated to supporting bond issues."

The Sun regrets the error.

Silence was a mistake, Brown says on bonds

Recognizing that you have made a mistake, particularly one that is on-going, can be as vexing as having food lodged between one's far molars. There is no rest until you correct the situation.

I made just such a mistake in 1995. I joined with Commissioner Donald Dell in raising the piggyback income tax rate from 50 percent to 58 percent. The increase was dedicated to pay for school construction over a six-year period.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

I had argued for a different approach, but not as doggedly nor as publicly as I should have. The better approach would have been, and still would be, to have a similar tax increase dedicated to supporting bond issues.

Just as a mortgage allows individual families to have the use of a house while paying for it over time, bonds offer the community a similar opportunity. We can build public facilities when they are needed and spread the cost over 20 or more years.

Will we pay more for the facilities? Yes and no. While the county will pay about $1,600 over the 20 years to retire each $1,000 bond, there are three distinct advantages.

First, we can build the school today.

Second, those using our schools over the next 20 years will help pay for the bonding; it won't all come out of our pockets today.

Third, the dollars we use to retire the bonds years from now will be worth less, due to inflation, than those we are now handing over.

My fellow commissioners, Mr. Dell and Dick Yates, have opposed increasing the county's use of bonds. In 1995, I kept the debate behind closed doors. Finally, out of concern that we might remain deadlocked and do nothing, I gave in.

Now it is 18 months later and anyone who cares to look at the costs involved will clearly appreciate that a "pay as we go" strategy is leaving us both highly taxed and still unable to build schools when we need them.

There is a better way. This time, I am not following the traditional etiquette of board discussion. Mr. Dell complains of my going public and putting his feet to the fire. My only regret, in that regard, is that I didn't do it in 1995, rather than place an unfairly large burden on current taxpayers.

All of our feet are to this fire, as they should be. Our schools are still bursting at the seams. We either house 25 percent of our students in portables five years from now, increase class sizes dramatically or we get on with building the schools on schedule.

The commission I suggested, and which the board has just appointed, is representative of Carroll's broad interests and is charged with recommending the best course for county government.

I look forward to the board receiving that input and regret that my fellow commissioners did not join with me in sending the message, at the outset, that we preferred a course of action based upon a lower tax rate.

W. Benjamin Brown

Westminster

The writer is vice president of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners.

Saving farms worth Open Space money

I disagree with your Feb. 24 editorial in which you criticize the Carroll County delegates' proposal to channel additional Program Open Space funds toward saving farmland.

Farms are clearly private property, but they provide many public benefits. Farms offer visual relief in an overbuilt landscape. They place a minimal burden upon public services.

They provide jobs and economic vitality. And they maintain open space in areas where, who knows, it may someday be desirable to establish a public park.

Using public funds from Program Open Space and the proposed Rural Legacy program to save farmland is wise fiscal policy which complements the state's goal of conserving open space for future generations.

Rob Deford

Hydes

The writer is president of Boordy Vineyards.

Not bored by county politics

My, what a tone that resounds through this county after the last two weeks of activities, as reported by The Sun.

Our commissioners first support the involvement of citizens in the process of input received by the planning and zoning boards, then they decide to revoke evening hearings by these boards.

Then, while the commissioners cry out for fiscal responsibilities to support their decision, we learn of their personal fiscal responsibilities in their expenses charged to county coffers.

Then I read in a Feb. 21 article how Commissioner Richard T. Yates has appointed another "ally" to serve on the zoning board to replace the member who passed away recently, the deceased also being a Yates appointee.

How brash can politicians act these days?

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