Speak Out

Your Opinions

October 23, 2005

THE ISSUE -- County officials are reporting a surplus of $20.4 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

About $14.4 million is available under county law for emergencies or one-time expenditures, and $6 million has been set aside to bolster the government's Rainy Day Fund, a hedge against bad times.

What would you suggest the county do with the $14.4 million?

Apply the funds to county's debt

Democrats could suggest a way to spend the $14.4 million surplus, but this would upset the Republicans.

You could spend it on education, but perhaps the police would appreciate it more. It could be refunded to the citizens, but the County Council wants a raise, as I guess most county employees do.

Maybe what we should do - and prevent this conflict - is find a way to serve all interest groups.

How about applying the $14.4 million against the county's debt?

Just pick the debt with the highest interest rate and apply the $14.4 million to the principal of that debt.

Imagine, if you would, a county government that would show it self to be financially responsible, not just to itself but to its citizens.

Jim Adams Ellicott City

We should reward the most deserving

I suggest we fully explore and find a way to provide the most worthy with these funds.

A very large part of our society believes that our educators and public safety workers are severely undercompensated, while holding the most important jobs (to teach our children and protect our lives).

Thus, it seems pretty simple. Let's back up our words with actions and find a way to put this "found" $14 million into their hands - preferably directly with one-time pay increases or bonuses or similar.

They are a very big reason why this surplus from increasing property values, and thus taxes, exists.

People want to raise a family and have their kids taught in Howard County.

Unfortunately, many of these finest public servants cannot even afford to live in the county they support.

If the law as written prevents this option from being seriously considered and acted upon, then perhaps our elected officials should consider enacting legislation that would allow us to take the right action here.

We should reward the most deserving.

Sean Hughes Glenwood

Just refund the overcharge

County officials told us two years ago that they needed to increase our taxes because there was going to be a shortage of money. The past two years, the county has miraculously found a surplus each year. This year, it's $20.4 million. What will it be next? If you overcharge someone and you find you have overcharged them, you return the overcharge.

I would like to have the money back, please. Council members, repeat after me: tax cut, refund.

Mark DeCrispino Woodstock

Disaster readiness should be a priority

We are third-grade citizens of Howard County at Hollifield Station Elementary School in Ellicott City.

We have been studying disasters like the Titanic and Pompeii. In our opinion, the county should use the $14.4 million for disaster preparations. First, if we had a disaster like a hurricane or a flood, we would need a high emergency shelter. Second, we would need a place, like a dome, where we would have supplies like food, water and clothes. Finally, if we couldn't stay, we would have to have transportation, like buses, to get to another place for safety. For all these reasons, we know the money should be used to prepare Howard County for a disaster.

Mrs. Aspel's 3rd grade class Hollifield Station Elementary School

Refund the money to taxpayers

The county should refund tax money to those who supplied the surplus - the taxpayers of Howard County. The county piggyback tax was dramatically increased last year; all taxpayers should receive some of this increase back since we obviously paid too much.

Jay M. Lustbader Columbia

Return the surplus to the people

Since The Sun reported the surplus, I have spoken with many people about this issue.

Every one of them agrees that the surplus should be returned to the people that created it by crediting as much of the property tax increase implemented two years ago as possible.

In addition, authorities should also seriously look at whether the increase should remain in place in the future.

William C. O'Connor Marriottsville

We want your opinions

THE ISSUE:

Howard County is becoming a cultural and international crossroads -- the county's foreign-born population stands at 16.7 percent, or 46,000 people, up from just 5 percent in 1970, according to a report funded by the county government and the Horizon Foundation. And that population is growing, posing challenges for schools, social service agencies and health care providers.

How well do you think Howard County is doing in knitting new immigrants into the fabric of the community? What more can be done to foster cultural understanding between native-born Howard countians and those who have made the county their home?

YOUR VIEW:

Send e-mail responses by Thursday to howard.speakout@baltsun.com. A selection of responses will be published Sunday. Please keep your responses short and include your name, address and telephone number. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published.

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