Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

February 13, 2005

Aging in Place Act not best approach

I firmly believe the entire delegation supports tax relief for seniors over the age of 65 and who have lived in their home for over 20 years.

The Howard County Aging in Place Act is not the best approach.

This bill, according to Raymond Wacks, the County Administrator, Office of Budget, would cost Howard County citizens approximately $6 million.

The sponsor of this legislation has not identified where the $6 million would be absorbed through the county budget. It would therefore fall on the County Executive and the County Council to determine where to cut the county budget.

Since the county spends more than half of its budget on education, one must assume that at least half of the $6 million would come from our education programs or possibly reduce several hundred teachers.

Another possibility is to reduce the size of our police force by 1/3 or reduce over 200 county employees. Any of these reductions would affect the quality of life for all citizens in Howard County.

The bill would give tax relief to all seniors regardless of their economic status. A different approach, not part of this bill, would give tax relief for seniors who qualify by meeting a means test.

This would allow the neediest of our seniors to receive tax relief and encourage them to stay in the county. This approach would reduce the fiscal impact to the county.

We should also recognize that the County Council has the authority to provide tax cuts for seniors.

Most of the letters I receive in my office from seniors express concern about the Governor's $42 million cut to seniors for nursing home care, the proposed loss of prescription drug benefits, the proposed cut of $500,000 for senior centers and the $200,000 reduced funding for assisted living.

As a member of the legislature, I am working to minimize these cuts to seniors.

Finally, I am extremely proud of the excellent rating received by the United Seniors of Maryland in support of senior issues.

Del. Frank S. Turner

District 13, Howard County

Senior homeowners deserve tax break

As a senior and a long-term homeowner in Howard County whose property assessment increased over 50% this tax evaluation year, I very strongly support Republican Del. Gail H. Bates sponsored tax aid to seniors ("Fate of bill to give seniors tax discount is uncertain," Feb. 10) .

Numerous seniors like Cathy Stefano desire to stay in Howard County in their later years and require tax relief to do so. I am confident many seniors living in the same home for 20, 25 or 30 plus years feel the same as Cathy and I do.

Democratic Del. Frank S. Turner advised that he will vote against the bill because many seniors in Howard County have become rich by living in the same home 20 years or more -- Frank's words not mine.

It appears that almost every time a proposal is put forth to help longtime senior homeowners or seniors in general with tax relief, the Howard County Democratic Party, this time by way of Del. Turner, want to deny seniors tax relief.

More tax revenue appears to be the prime motivation for decision-making by Turner. Not all seniors in Howard sell their homes for $900,000. If Turner wants to tax seniors out of Howard County, at least he should be open and tell us !

Martin C. Valliant

Ellicott City

Bates commended for senior proposal

I would like to commend Del. Gail H. Bates for her innovative plan to allow senior citizens to stay in their homes in Howard County rather than be pushed out by raising taxes higher than their fixed income.

I do not agree with Del. Turner's analysis that the seniors can sell their homes at a huge profit and therefore don't need a tax break. He is implying that when I turn 65 I should sell my home for big bucks and then I shouldn't need tax relief. What he is ignoring is that if I sell my home, I will need another home that will be selling for the same big bucks if I want to stay in my home county. I can only conclude that Del. Turner expects me to move away or get shut up in a nursing home.

I won't be retiring until 2007, so I hope to let Del. Turner and the four youngsters on the council know what I think of their values at the ballot box.

Whether I'm successful or not, I can be just as smug as they are because I know they'll be senior citizens some day, and their children will have followed in their footsteps and will treat them just as these elected officials have treated today's seniors.

I do not believe that Del. Turner's attitude is an isolated case within Howard County. In the past year my own experience has been that I felt the County Council discriminated against my family in a zoning dispute. It is not hard to imagine that the county would want the seniors with their fixed incomes to be replaced by two-income families from an income tax revenue basis.

I hope to let Del. Turner and the four youngsters on the council know what I think of their values at the ballot box.

Fortunately, we have the forward-looking Del. Bates! We need more like her.

David Denzler


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