Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 30, 2004

Cuts in state aid add to the stress on local budgets

The Sun's article "No tax hike in Ehrlich budget" (Jan. 22) described, in part, the impacts of Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposed fiscal 2005 budget and how it would hurt county governments in Maryland.

The article highlighted the loss of revenues normally shared with county governments and the pressure counties will experience as a result to raise local taxes. However, the article failed to mention that the 156 incorporated cities and towns in Maryland other than Baltimore will likewise face painful choices.

This will be the second consecutive year in which municipalities in Maryland will face significant cuts in fiscal assistance from the state. The Maryland Municipal League (MML) surveyed all 157 municipalities and asked what actions they took to balance their budgets as a result of the 2003-2004 funding reductions.

The results are startling:

Forty-five percent had to lay off employees, eliminate merit or cost-of-living increases or increase employee insurance contributions.

Forty-six percent had to delay capital purchases and construction projects or sell municipal assets to balance their budgets.

Eighteen percent had to increase local property taxes to balance their budgets.

Many cities and towns also told MML that, although they have thus far avoided a property tax increase, if state aid to municipalities is reduced next year, more cities and towns will have to seriously consider increasing property taxes to balance their budgets.

And increasing pressure to raise local taxes and fees and to reduce or eliminate services will fall on municipal governments as they seek to cope with continuing service demands in the face of reduced state funding to provide those services.

Mark R. Frazer

North Beach

The writer is the mayor of North Beach and president of the Maryland Municipal League.

Price was right on State of Union

G. Jefferson Price III's column on President Bush's State of the Union speech was rude, disrespectful - and right on the money ("What does George Bush have to grin about?" Jan. 25).

It is with nearly jaw-dropping incredulity that I (and I hope many, many others) continue to watch as our president and the men who guide him denigrate and undermine my country in the eyes of the world.

In a time unique in history, when we are in fact the only superpower, we continue to pursue isolationist policies and push destructive measures that benefit a small elite group of political and economic cronies.

I hope people with a critical and responsive nature, Democrat or Republican, will read and digest Mr. Price's column and ask the same questions he did.

Taking the long view of this administration, I see a nation being manipulated into a culture of fear that is certainly not a standard-bearer for truth and freedom.

Charles Michelson

Phoenix

Secrecy at Dover shows Bush mindset

In his flawless demolition of this year's State of the Union address, G. Jefferson Price III included one item, small but stark, that jolted me ("What does George Bush have to grin about?" Jan. 25).

I am aware that the current White House occupant has not attended a single funeral of a youngster who has died in his misbegotten adventure. After a reminder about this, Mr. Price informs us that "the press is not allowed to cover the arrival of bodies from Iraq at the U.S. Air Force base in Dover, Del." This I did not know, and I wonder how many citizens do. Even Lyndon Johnson did not resort to such sickening secrecy during the Vietnam disaster.

What does that tell us of this commander in chief and the mindset of the administration he heads?

Milton Bates

Baltimore

Give Republicans a little bit of credit

In response to The Sun's editorial "Needed: jobs" (Jan. 27), which slammed President Bush for the lack of job growth, I frankly believe that The Sun should post disclaimers on its editorials stating the editors are campaigning for the Democratic Party.

The constant attacks on all Republicans show that The Sun has no credibility when it comes to critiquing our elected officials. How about a little balance now and then? How about trying to show readers that The Sun can someday, somehow give a Republican (gasp) credit for anything? How about showing us that The Sun can tone down its liberal rhetoric and at least try to be fair?

I won't hold my breath.

Rick Proctor

Forest Hill

Firing of Franklin is loss for city police

I want to express my disappointment at the recent firing of Lt. Col. Stanford Franklin of the Baltimore City Police Department ("City police commander fired amid internal investigation," Jan. 21).

Colonel Franklin retired from the Maryland State Police at the rank of major at age 41 after 23 years of service. He spent his final two years of service to the state police devoted to leading the Education and Career Development Command, where he introduced problem-based learning to the entire training program.

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