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August 30, 2010

An Open Letter

Shawn Burns

Dear County Commissioner Candidates: There are a few things I’d like to know before I cast my vote for any of you. This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. And it’s not about conservatives or liberals.


Spending of taxpayer money is my main area of concern here.


For starters, let’s talk about the pension plan for commissioners, a pension plan paid for by the taxpayers of Frederick County.


If elected, will you participate in the pension plan? If your answer is yes, why do you feel the taxpayers of Frederick County should pay for your participation?


May I remind you that this is a service position? It is not intended to be your job or career.


Currently taxpayers pay approximately $7,100 annually for each commissioner who participates. If all five commissioners avail themselves of this benefit, taxpayers are paying $35,500 annually. And over the course of a four-year term, taxpayer will have paid $142,000 for five commissioners’ pension plan.


Again, why should taxpayers pay for you to receive a pension for an elected position that you have chosen to seek? If your interest was truly about service to the community, then why not decline to participate in the pension plan and save county taxpayers $28,400 over the course of your term in office?


Refusing to participate in the pension plan would go a long way with voters toward showing your commitment to spending tax money wisely, and that you’re not just another ladder-climbing career politician.


Taxpayers are tired of “tax and spend” policies of elected officials. It will be so refreshing not to hear Commissioner Jan Gardner say something along the lines of, “Well, $142,000 out of a $400 million budget isn’t a big deal.”


It’s that kind of philosophy toward spending for every pet project that got us into our current economic mess both locally and nationally.


I’m sure everyone remembers a few years ago when Commissioner Kai Hagen said he didn’t like working on PC computers and demanded that the county use taxpayer money to buy him a computer of his very own. Please, prospective commissioners, please promise that you won’t do anything so childish and wasteful as Mr. Hagen’s stunt and misuse of taxpayer money.


And who can forget just a few weeks ago, when instead of doing the right thing and returning to the county the unused money from in their expense accounts, Commissioners Hagen, Gardner and David Gray decided to donate our tax money to charity.


Again, this gang views county tax money as nothing more than their own personal slush funds to spend any and every way that floats their boat.


If Mr. Hagen, Mrs. Gardner and Mr. Gray cared so much about the charities to which they donated taxpayer money, why didn’t they donate their own money?


Here’s another request of prospective commissioners, please use your taxpayer-funded expense account wisely. And will you publically pledge to return any unused money from your expense account back to the general fund?


It’s abundantly clear the way this current board spends taxpayer money that they have no grasp or understanding of the Maryland or U.S. Constitution.


Please, prospective commissioners, promise that you will not adopt the spending philosophy of our current Board of County Commissioners. A philosophy that again goes something like this: “Well, we’re only talking about $50, $500, $5,000, $50,000 or $500,000 out of a $400 million dollar budget.”


I would appreciate any feedback and response from any and all of the candidates for commissioner. Your response to this open letter could go a long way in clarifying your views on these issues and could also go a long way in helping me decide for whom I should cast my vote.


You can email you response to me at Thank you, and I’ll be waiting to hear from you.


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