Put idle Revenue Authority money to work elsewhere

Our View

August 25, 2011

The abilities of some intelligent, civic-minded people are going to waste while about a quarter million tax dollars sit idle.

This isn't necessarily the result of some government boondoggle, just one of those things that didn't work out as planned. But that doesn't mean officials can't do anything to correct this situation.

The Howard County Revenue Authority has had little to do in the five years since it was formed, initially to study and secure funding for a parking garage in Ellicott City's historic district.

That study found the project financially infeasible, as did one exploring the possibility of a county swim center. Since then, the Revenue Authority's board of directors has dealt with little in its monthly meetings — which are required by the state law establishing the authority and generally take place via teleconference — beyond approving the minutes of the previous meeting.

"Without a project, there really doesn't seem to be a need to meet," board member Chris Merdon says. The former County Council member says he plans to resign from the board once a successor is found, and cites the board's inactivity as his reason.

County Executive Ken Ulman says his administration has tossed around some ideas for Revenue Authority projects but has not yet found one that could sustain itself financially.

"We're not going to take a risk to get involved in a project just to do it," he tells us. That's certainly a prudent attitude. Meanwhile, though, the money appropriated for the authority's start-up — $300,000 minus the $54,000 it spent on the garage study — is essentially stuffed under the mattress.

With county officials on the lookout for every spare dime in these lean times, that money ought to be put to better use unless the Revenue Authority has a viable project in its foreseeable future.

Some believe the proposed Troy Hill Park Tennis Center fits the bill, but the Maryland Stadium Authority is still studying the feasibility of that idea, and neighborhood opposition is bound to keep it off the fast track.

The Ulman administration ought to consider freeing up that money for some more pressing need while the Revenue Authority is essentially dormant.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.