MRRA racetrack is viable, with a few conditionsI have been...


June 14, 1998

MRRA racetrack is viable, with a few conditions

I have been following your continuing coverage of the Middle River Racing Association's proposed speedway and the debate among surprised neighbors.

As I go door-to-door throughout the district in my campaign for the House of Delegates, I find a real division among men and women in their beliefs about the track. Searching for a middle ground, I believe that the speedway could be a complement to the community, but only if the following two conditions are met:

1) Access to and from the raceway is limited to Interstate 695.

2) The raceway commits to building and maintaining a "major-league" standard in the racing industry. The last thing people want is a track similar to the Capitol Raceway in Crofton, where I grew up and heard the roars three miles away while neighbors have complained for 20 years.

We do need to be more sensitive to brownfields restoration and economic development. Every politician espouses those two until a project pops up in his district. We must consider the alternatives, such as letting the area lay dormant when people need jobs or bringing in more heavy industry and turning the area into Curtis Creek West. We can also demand that the raceway project do justice to our community and that the community's needs be implemented in the final design. Otherwise, the MRRA can take a hike.

Stephan W. Fogleman

Severna Park

The writer is a Democratic candidate for the House of Delegates in District 31.

In school debate, one group suffers

I have been studying the Anne Arundel County school system for 43 years, nine of them as a volunteer in Brooklyn Park Elementary School. In those years, nothing has changed regarding budget procedures. It isn't about money, but about who is going to control that money.

The taxpayer has absolutely no recourse. You can't have a tax rebellion.

Most taxes are withheld automatically. Too much damage is done if you wait to vote the rascals out in the next election. In the meantime, who suffers? Children.

For too long, the media has written accounts of council and school board meetings with their innuendo and posturing. The media is the public's conscience, representing us in absentia.

I think it is time for the media to ask the governor to create a blue-ribbon panel to overhaul the entire school system and how it does business with the local jurisdiction.

Vera McCullough

Brooklyn Park

Gary stingy on subdivision waivers

Far from "liberalizing the issuance of subdivision waivers," as some have suggested in recent news accounts, Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary's administration has been relatively stingy.

Since taking office three years ago, Mr. Gary has tightened the standards for granting waivers to subdivisions proposed in areas with crowded schools. He established the first ceiling or cap on the number of waivers that could be issued in 1996, and further tightened the standards last year by requiring the Department of Planning and Code Enforcement to consider not just the impact of proposed subdivisions on multi-school feeder systems, but on individual schools as well.

As a result, the county has granted half as many waivers during Mr. Gary's three years in office as during the previous three years.

John Morris


The writer is land use and environmental affairs manager for Anne Arundel County.

Executive's response to school budget criticism

A letter written by Lee Lears of Annapolis regarding my fiscal year 1999 proposed budget made statements that are incorrect ("Calendar glitch shorts the budget," May 31).

Mr. Lears also confuses funding the operating budget with funding the capital budget.

This is a common mistake. You cannot use "one-time cash" to fund ongoing pay raises in the operating budget. That is exactly why I proposed more money for capital projects than requested. If you placed one-time money (a fund balance, for instance) in the operating budget to be used for pay raises, the county would have a severe problem in the following years.

Mr. Lears states that we did not fund increases for health benefits and pension in the Board of Education budget. This is not factual. The school system's proposed $7 million for "projected" increases could not be supported by its own numbers. Instead, we gave the schools the corrected number of $3.5 million, based on facts and agreed upon by the County Council.

With regard to the pension funding, again, after in-depth review, the original number projected was wrong. I funded the correct amount and the council agreed. Including step-increase pay raises and longevity pay, the school system received more than an $18 million increase.

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