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July 24, 2014

Setting The Record Straight Again!

Blaine R. Young

I was not sure if I was reading a fairy tale or not last Sunday in The Frederick News-Post. Was Jan Gardner trying to portray herself as a fiscal conservative, when in fact we know she supported Barack Obama for president and supports Obamacare, which is the worst piece of irresponsible fiscal legislation ever passed.


She also whole-heartedly supports and did support Gov. Martin O’Malley and her former boss, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, two of the most legendary tax-and-spend liberals in Maryland’s history.


Jan Gardner never met a tax or fee she did not like; and the present Board of County Commissioners took office with a financial mess to clean up.


The Fire Tax was completely mismanaged by the Board she headed to the point that the general fund was subsidizing it to the tune of over $10 million per year. Taxpayers were being taxed twice. The present commissioners consolidated this vital core public service into the general fund with the support of the Volunteer Firefighters Association. Volunteer and career fire and rescue members asked for help in solving this problem created by the Gardner Board. She ignored their pleas and the problems were left to fester until the Young Board took office.


It promised during the campaign in 2010 to straighten out the county’s financial turmoil, and kept its promise. People expect fire and rescue service when it is needed, and politics should never be played when dealing with fire, rescue and police protection.


The Gardner Board bloated county government to its largest size ever. In 2009 there were approximately 2,650 budgeted full-time employees. With these recurring costs of salaries, pension and benefits, it created a serious structural budgetary problem. Most businesses were retracting in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Ms. Gardner’s Board grew county to it largest size during that same period.


The present Board of County Commissioners has just produced the best bond ratings in the history of the county with the support and the hard work of the county employees. This was attained by tough, good budgeting decisions and with conservative prudent budgetary strategies.


While the size of the general fund has grown, it is misleading because of the consolidation of services: Fire/Rescue’s $43 million is now included in the general fund along with $5 million from Permits and Code, instead of being maintained in separate funds. These line items are not new spending.


The current budget has 1977 budgeted full-time employees compared to 2,650 in 2009, a 25% decrease of county government without a reduction in core county services. You be the judge. Visit and see for yourself the taxes, fees and spending of Jan Gardner over her 12-year career as a county commissioner.


Taxes and fees eliminated by the present Board of County Commissioners:


·       Excise Tax

·       Fire and Rescue Tax (consolidated into the general fund)

·       Trailer Tax

·       Property Tax Rate reduced to constant yield in 2014

·       $100 Surplus rebate returned to taxpayers

·       Senior Tax Credit Expanded

·       Admission and Amusement Tax

·       Home alarm, garbage disposal, dishwasher and electric hot water installation fee eliminated


Speaking of the Senior Tax Credit, former Commissioner Bruce Reeder had long wanted to pass a meaningful Senior Tax Credit to help seniors stay in their homes. However, under the Gardner Board its implementation was completely hollow. There was a stipulation in the plan that a lien, in favor of the government, was attached to the property so that the taxes built up, to be paid when the property was sold. Not one person signed up for this ridiculous government idea – and for good reason: It would have reduced the sales value of the home by the amount of the county’s lien.


The present board passed what former Commissioner Reeder proposed and passed it as a true reduction in property taxes, without any lien on the property. If you remember, this was a campaign promise made by the current commissioners during the 2010 campaign, and it is a promise that was kept.


To honor Commissioner Reeder for his compassion for our seniors, we arranged to have him brought to the meeting during which this credit was considered so he could personally witness the vote. This tax credit allows seniors to retire with dignity as he intended, and I am personally proud to have continued Bruce Reeder’s legacy.


Citizens and Montevue


We as taxpayers have lost over $50 million carrying these facilities since the year 2000. Astonishingly, we taxpayers built a new state-of-the-art facility for $38 million with NO INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL ANALYSIS ever being done to determine if the new facility would be self-sustaining, as claimed then by Jan Gardner.


All of this for 60 indigent seniors who MAY OR MAY NOT BE Frederick County residents at the time of admission. No other county operates a nursing home with this type of model. Only one other county is even involved in a nursing home, and it is exploring opportunities to sell.


We could have received $10 – $15 million more in the sale of the facility, but the community said they wanted the patients and employees protected. We listened and we did as they asked. No patient can be removed or transferred. Employee wages were maintained with comparable healthcare benefits. The nursing home will be there in its location and in operation for many years to come, but a private company can run it far better than the government can. Just as the federal government should not be in the healthcare business, neither should the county government. Previous administrations tried and failed. We cleaned up the financial mess.


The present Board of County Commissioners is planning for continued prosperity with the goal of maintaining Frederick County as the best county in the State of Maryland. We are one of the safest counties, have the best education system, and unemployment is at 4.5% in Frederick County.


We have the best bond rating in the history of the county, and we now have one of the friendliest business environments in the state. Controlled growth will happen in and around the City of Frederick and in southern Frederick County. We are charging developers and new residents now more than ever, with more than $40,000 per home in fees for needed infrastructure.


Here are some questions I would love to hear Jan Gardner answer even though she has been dodging them.


1. Does she support Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and the 287(g) Ice program?

2. Does she support Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gun grabbing legislation?

3. Does she support the Rain Tax?

4. Does she support the state’s increase in the minimum wage?

5. What policies/taxes of Barack Obama, Barbara Mikulski and Martin O’Malley does she disagree with and did she ever speak out against any of them?


All of these impact our county and you should know where all candidates stand on these very important issues. Ms. Gardner may try to run from her record, but she cannot hide from the facts.


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
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