Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

April 27, 2003

Make affordable housing a reality

Perception is reality. What is perceived as affordable housing needs to be seen in its true light, especially with the ordinance for this in Montgomery County and now in Frederick County followed by a newly created Governor's Task Force on affordable housing being developed for the state of Maryland.

When the price of homes in Howard County escalates enough to prevent teachers, police officers, firemen and young professionals from living within our county, we have a problem. When the price of homes prevents the disadvantaged from being part of our fabric, both parties suffer.

Affordable housing as seen with MPDU in Montgomery County or MICU units in Howard County are not the total answer, but represent a symbol that the county cares enough to take care of its very own. It allows the County Council, the county executive and county administration leaders to become creative in developing funding opportunities to see that the spirit of the ordinance can be carried out. An example here is the $15 million that Montgomery County has in its budget to put "words into action" and make affordable housing possible. Here in Howard County, we are privileged to have the Rouse Company that, from their very start, continues to have this shared vision in making these affordable units available. The impact to the homeowner may be that the price of the home may be slightly higher, but it's a payment we make to make us whole and proud.

Raymond D. Bahr

Ellicott City

Taxing authority must be used justly

If you are a low tax, fiscal responsibility advocate then your worst nightmare is about to come true. Howard County Executive James Robey has seen reality and turned it inside out. Difficult times, times that call for fiscal restraint and deep budget cuts, will soon be transformed into a "business as usual" environment by raiding the pocketbooks of the taxpayer.

Have folks who believe as I do completely misjudged the taxpaying community of Howard County? Maybe those of us who favor lower taxes and rigorously prioritized and restrictive budgets are suffering from flights of the imagination. Maybe we have scrambled reality so much that we labor under the bizarre impression that governments are supposed to act prudently and use their taxing authority narrowly.

The outcome of the county executive's proposed tax increase combined with the state of Maryland's property tax increase and the inevitable higher property tax assessments will be damaging to many county residents. No time is a good time for tax increases, but under the present circumstances this triple whammy will injure real people -- especially those folks on a fixed income.

The founder of "behaviorism," John B. Watson, always spoke of two innate fears, sudden loud noises and the fear of falling. If Mr. Watson doesn't mind, I would like to add a third fear that is unique to Howard County -- the crowded classroom fear! Yes, yes, I recognize that we need more classrooms. I also recognize that Howard County has a bloated education bureaucracy and that Mr. Robey must put deep budget cuts and the elimination of any new projects on the table before any tax increase.

The real causality in this atmosphere of mild hysteria is our nation's long history of skepticism and dislike of taxes and the government's taxing authority. There are always moral implications surrounding a government appropriating a citizen's property. Our public servants must be cognizant of these implications. Sadly, however, it looks as if those elected to public office and many citizens have lost the capacity to understand the difference between using taxing authority justly and using it for expediency and instant gratification.

Carl LaVerghetta

Ellicott City

Councilmen praised for supporting school

I want to thank Councilmen Allan Kittleman and Christopher Merdon for their steadfast support for funding the 12th high school. When County Executive Robey issued his capital budget, he delayed the 12th high school from opening in 2005 to 2006. Unfortunately, the Council Democrats readily accepted the County Executive's decision and did not express any desire to restore funding for the 12th high school.

Councilmen Kittleman and Merdon, however, were not content to let the severe overcrowding in our high schools continue for another year longer. They worked closely with School Board member Courtney Watson and met with many community groups to work out a solution to enable the 12th high school to remain on schedule.

Without the strong leadership from Councilmen Kittleman and Merdon, the 12th high school would certainly have been delayed until 2006. We are fortunate to have two Councilmen who have consistently made education their top priority.

Brent and Louise Owens Ellicott City

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