Five commissioners are a necessity Congratulations to...

January 23, 2000

Five commissioners are a necessity

Congratulations to Del. Donald Elliott who recognizes a process that is broken and offers a fix for it.

That "fix", of course, is the legislative proposal to allow Carroll County voters the choice of five commissioners elected by districts.

Members of our legislative delegation ought to be jumping on the bandwagon to support this proposal.

When populous and prosperous areas of Carroll County, such as Finksburg and Eldersburg, are completely unrepresented at the local level, the members of Carroll County's legislative delegation ought to recognize this incongruity in representative government and fall over themselves to offer corrective legislation.

But they are not.

Thus, I urge all Carroll County residents, including those of our legislative delegation, to take an interest in and support Del. Elliott's most important proposal. It is imperative that local government be responsive and caring to the needs of its citizens. A true representative government is a most basic right of a democracy.

Donald E. Hoffman, Finksburg

Contrary to what The Sun editor said in its editorial ("Fives's a crowd," Jan. 12) about state Del. Don Elliott's five-commissioner effort, there is a lot of public clamor in the county, especially in the Eldersburg and Finksburg areas.

If the editor wants to see evidence of this he should attend the Finksburg Planning Council meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 27 at the Sandymount Church.

Boston had their large "Tea Party" in 1773 because there was taxation without representation. Eldersburg has had representation for no more than four years in the 162 year history of the county. We do not have any large amount of tea nor a water front to dump it in (since our representatives from the northern part of the county sold the water rights to Baltimore City), so we will have to continue our public clamor for five commissioners by district.

We all know that the pen is mightier than the sword, and when you use your pen to interfere with our legislative process it is tantamount to yelling fire in a crowded theater or inciting a riot.

Nimrod Davis, Eldersburg

Time to rethink the idea of state sales taxes

Neal Peirce's OpinionCommentary column ("New challenges for 21st century," Jan. 2) brought to light the need to reform the state's tax structure.

As a controller for a small retail/service company, I have firsthand experience dealing with the incongruities of the sales and use tax regulations.

I collect sales tax on some products, pay use tax on others and calculate credits due us on out of state transactions (when I pay yet another sales or use tax to yet another taxing entity).

At a time when American businesses are enhancing the nation's prosperity through their gains in productivity (and therefore competitiveness), it seems strange that they are being asked to spend somuch time being the state's tax collection agency.

Would it not be more efficient for the sales tax to be eliminated and the income tax rates adjusted to make up for the revenues? By doing so, the comptroller's office could pare its beauracracy and State Comptroller William Donald Schaeffer could stop patrolling the borders in his unceasing vigilance against sales tax evaders.

Eliminating the sales tax would also help the state's poorer citizens, who pay a much higher percentage of their income in sales taxes than do the more affluent. Increasing the income tax rates would reverse this disparity.

Finally, the increase in online retailing will make it that much more difficult (and expensive) to regulate the sales tax structure in the future.

It is time for our elected officials to rethink this sacred cow of the last century.

Jeffrey S. Haugh, Westminster

Smart Growth isn't as bad as columnist says

Smart Growth is perhaps a crude start on such annoying questions as the value of preserving farmland and using state funds efficiently for construction projects.

Mike Burns throws several Smart Growth decisions into the same soup pot as if to show that the concept is faulty. Yes, there are political interpretations to Smart Growth -- and there will be with future governors. The review of the police training academy decision is an appropriate jab at Gov. Parris Glendening's version of Smart Growth.

Let's look briefly at other decisions in Mr. Burns' soup pot. For a billion dollars the Inter-County Connector would be congested within a year of opening after cutting through prized parkland and established neighborhoods.

A downtown Hagerstown campus of the University of Maryland is attacked as "urban renewal Redux" (easier to give up on urban areas) and to seek convenience.

The Carroll County bypasses create quite a stew. Past growth policies that produced congestion are overlooked.

The bog turtle issue has nothing to do with Smart Growth. Perhaps another column will attack the protection of God's creation as inconvenient.

These decisions are tossed in to support Mr. Burns' scalding of Smart Growth, without a mention of any positives like rural legacy. Perhaps a new millenium will inspire awareness that land is a precious and finite resource, that state funds should be used efficiently. These remain the basic principles of Smart Growth, even if subject to political interpretations.

Greg Becker, Westminster

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