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As Long as We Remember...

July 11, 2013

Sgt. Joe Friday Couldn’t Say It Better

Blaine R. Young

You deserve to know the facts. So I’m giving them facts to you directly today because the local media won’t report most of our story because of their apparent bias against us.


Please take a few minutes to review the record of the Frederick Board of County Commissioners.


Did you know that through May of this year, 765 senior property owners have saved $223,717 on their property taxes because of the Senior Tax Credit that was put in place by these commissioners?


And did you know that Commissioners Paul Smith, Kirby Delauter, Billy Shreve and I:


·       Reduced the county’s excise tax, trailer park tax and the admissions and amusement tax rate to ZERO.


·       Eliminated the $65 permit fee to replace your dishwasher, hot water heater and garbage disposal as promised.


·       Eliminated the $100 annual home security system fee.


·       Abolished the fire tax.


Back in 2010 when the four of us ran for office together, we pledged to you that we would redefine the role of our county government. And have compassion for the taxpayer.


I am very proud to say we are living up to that pledge.


Together, the four of us have reduced or eliminated 202 different taxes and fees since taking office. That’s right: 202.


And we identified over 260 rules, regulations, fees and taxes that we believed could either be eliminated, reduced or modified. And I’m happy to report to you that over 77% of that list is complete.

When I ran for commissioner, my priority was to have compassion for every taxpayer in Frederick County. As I’ve said many times – the taxpayers of our county shouldn’t be treated like an ATM machine.


And I’ve worked hard to make sure that every decision this board makes is in the best interest of all of the taxpayers of our county.


Local media outlets like to spend all of their time trying to spin everything we are trying to accomplish into something negative and controversial instead of just reporting the facts.


The Frederick Board of County Commissioners’ record speaks for itself, especially when compared to the record of Gov. Martin O’Malley, whose philosophy – apparently – is simply to tax, spend and regulate.


Here in Frederick County we’ve have enacted a very different approach… which has been one of fiscal responsibility and for our government to live within our means.


While the governor was busy increasing state spending by $5 billion, this Board of County Commissioners has found ways to reduce taxes, fees and regulations while maintaining the same level of service that residents expect and deserve.


While Governor O’Malley was busy increasing income taxes not once, but twice since he’s been in office, we rolled up our sleeves and reduced capital expenses in the Fleet Department – saving county taxpayers $3 million.


And Commissioners Smith, Delauter, Shreve and I convened a special Synergies Committee that saved over $6 million in 2011, with projected savings of over $3 million annually in future years.


You can’t tax and spend your way to prosperity.


I am proud of our record as it proves that government can be smarter, more efficient and more sympathetic to the pocketbooks of the taxpayers.


Governor O’Malley has raided $1 billion from the Transportation Trust Fund since he’s been in office. And he spent that money on things that have nothing to do with meeting the needs of our roads and transportation systems.


On the flip side, in Frederick County we have fully funded the annual required contribution for retiree health benefits, drastically reducing the unfunded liability to Frederick County taxpayers. And we didn’t raid the Bond Enhancement or Recordation Funds like the immediate predecessors on the board did.


And we have also made significant changes to the Frederick County defined benefit pension plan that has increased the funding of this plan while also further reducing another unfunded liability to taxpayers. The plan is projected to be funded at 91% by 2017.


For some reason the local media won’t report these facts. And instead it spends its time attacking our sheriff and this board. So I decided it was too important to just sit back and let the facts be swept under the rug.


I’ve said repeatedly through the years that elected office is a service to the community and that it shouldn’t be a career. And one of the first things we did upon taking office was to start at the top by eliminating the pension plan for county commissioners and reducing commissioner’s expense accounts by 90%.


And – to lead by example – I pay my own travel expenses, gas, cell phone bill, and I pay for postage and even my county business cards.


Sadly, the governor increased the budget for his office 12.7 percent and increased his Executive Department’s budget 10.3 percent in fiscal year 2012.


Clearly my definition of the role of government is drastically different than that of our governor. And we’ve proven that it can and does work in Frederick County.


I am very proud of the record we have built and continue to build.


Please refer your friends and family in the county to to read this column. Just send them the link, then ask them whether they prefer the governor’s philosophy or the philosophy we have pursued in Frederick County.


Commissioners Smith, Delauter, Shreve and I have dedicated our term in office to fighting for the taxpayers of Frederick County. And I personally pledge to you that we will continue to work in the best interest of the taxpayers until the very last day of our term in office. You have my word.




I’d like also to address our schools. Between the teacher’s union and the media, all you will hear is that everything is the fault of the commissioner’s fault and that teachers rank 22 out of 24 counties in pay.


Maryland was the first state in the nation to secure a $40,000 minimum starting salary for teachers. The starting pay for a teacher in Frederick County is $41,000. And that does not include pension and benefits.


The difference in salary from our rank of 22 to being ranked 10th is around $3,000, so you can see the disparity that the union and local media claims is way overblown.


Overall, according to recent state reports, Frederick County ranks 7th in average teacher pay.


Simply throwing money at education is not the answer. If it was, the District of Columbia would have the best school system in the country, but in fact they spend more per pupil than every other jurisdiction and have one of the worst school systems in the country.


It’s about providing a safe learning environment, good parents and yes, great teachers. And that’s why Frederick County ranks at the top of the state in education.


The current Board of Commissioners is spending one-time money on education as aggressively as any past Board on school construction, systemic needs and technology.


We have been fiscally responsible in limiting reoccurring increases to the school system because we must live within our means.


The days of free spending and a “have it all” attitude are gone.


[Editor’s Note: For those too young to remember the TV series “Dragnet,” Jack Webb played the lead character – Sgt. Joe Friday – whose tag line was “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.”]

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