Sound budgeting would help CA
Like all of the publicity regarding the potential CA rate reduction, your story omitted a crucial factor in the issue ("Board may cut CA fees in 2005," Oct. 20). That is, the issue is as much due to the increased house assessment as to the CA rate.
For example, the $250,000 house value used as an example would have been assessed in the previous year at about $190,000. The lien charge to the resident in that year at the 73 cent rate would have been approximately $690 compared to the charge of $787 in the re-assessed year at the 63 cent rate for an increase of approximately 14 percent in absolute dollars to be paid by the resident.
Now the question has to do not with the symbolism of a rate reduction but a rate that would be tied to realistic and prudent budget needs.
If we assume the need to increase absolute dollars by 5 percent according to sound budget parameters, then the dollar charge to the resident in the re-assessment year should be in the neighborhood of $725. The rate to achieve this would be 58 cents per 100 dollars. Even this rate is considered too high by some of the budget analysis that has been independently done, which indicates that recent budget surpluses have been too high and that there is room for reducing costs. This analysis suggests a 53 cent rate.
The rate issue has to do with equity and fairness to the residents. The lien rate should not be an arbitrary figure and this applies also to a reduction. The rate should be the result of sound budgeting.
Less-expensive fix offered for Route 32
I would like to try to solve the problem of the Route 32 expansion. My plan could save the cashed strapped county, state and federal governments money in the process.
First, assign a Howard County policeman Route 32 as their assigned patrol route. Then address how to prevent the deer from crossing the road or a way to make drivers aware of this hazard.
Finish installing turn arrows on the Route 32 and Route 144 turn signals (this is a major cause of accidents; driving East or West on Route 144 and turning left is very dangerous).
Make a rumble strip 100 yards before every signal. Reduce the number of large trucks that travel Route 32 during rush hour. This is just a beginning, At the moment it beats $200 million dollars for about nine miles of road.
David J. Jaffa
Hire more police; install traffic lights
Two reasons are given ("Route 32 plan estimated at $200 million", Oct. 26) for seeking to widen Route 32 between I-70 and Route 108: to reduce congestion and save lives.
A fundamental tenet of elementary economics is that reducing the cost of something means that you'll get more of it. Widening the lanes in this stretch of road effectively reduces the cost of commuting. Thus, you can expect more commuters, not less, and in a short period a return to congestion.
This is illustrated by State Senator Robert H. Kittleman saying his constituents are " ... also eagerly awaiting the widening" so that Sykesville will be more attractive to businesses. He states, "They've got to be able to get there."
Guess what this means: After spending $200 million, ten years from now we'll be in the same boat.
Saving lives is another bogus reason for the widening. Western Howard County is a hotbed of big-sized SUVs that like to motor along at 70 miles per hour any chance they get. Their drivers are secure in the notion that they can mow down anything in their path. You can bet that the widening will turn this stretch into a public NASCAR race. The evidence shows that when drivers feel safer they are more reckless and drive faster.
If you want to save lives and reduce congestion, there are cheaper ways - including hiring more police and putting in traffic lights at appropriate spots. Congestion will be reduced over time as people tire of grid-lock, waiting in line at restaurants, and overcrowded schools. The market actually does work if given a chance.
Admittedly there is a disadvantage: Politicians lose the ability to direct a large chunk of taxpayer money at numerous politically friendly businesses. We know how that works at the national level.
Deer hunt too small to make a difference
Last week I read in a news story once again about the rationale that the Department of Recreation and Parks gives for starting the deer hunts: population control.
The department owns about 8,000 acres of both developed and undeveloped parkland, but is hunting on only about 1,700 acres. Howard County has 160,670 acres total, and the total of about 1,700 acres being hunted by the county calculates to just about 1 percent of the total acres in the county.
To assert that they are doing the county a service by killing some deer on 1 percent of the land is laughable. Deer will just move to safe areas, plus the killing will cause population rebound, producing more. For this, and other reasons, this heinous activity must be halted.