Setting The Record Straight
Recently, County Executive Jan Gardner had a "Letter to the Editor" published in The Frederick News-Post (FNP) outlining the many "successes" of her administration. Unfortunately, this letter was riddled with falsehoods, errors and misrepresentations.
Over the next two weeks, our campaign will be highlighting each of Ms. Gardner's attempts to pull the wool over voters' eyes.
Here's are a few examples!
Myth: The County has “adopted strong ethics laws”
Fact: Ms. Gardner supported a watered-down version of ethics reform and publicly attacked a stronger version proposed by Sen. Michael Hough, which was supported by me and the Annapolis delegation. It was stronger and broader, and it addressed situations exactly like the one in which Ms. Gardner found herself. Senator Hough’s bill would have required county officials to disclose campaign contributions greater than $500 within 48 hours, and Ms. Gardner rejected the bill. However, Gardner accepted campaign cash from the lobbyist for the Downtown Hotel Conference Center at the same time she was pushing for the project. “Strong” ethics reform would have forced her to disclose this contribution as soon as received.
County Executive Gardner not only misrepresents her record -- she also takes credit for the accomplishments of others. She claims that Frederick High School was "advanced" under her administration -- but it opened on schedule per the Young Board of County Commissioners' 2012 Capital Improvement Program. Gardner also claims that she "advanced" Butterfly Ridge and Sugarloaf Elementary schools – but they are only opening on-time because developers stepped up when Gardner's only solution was raising taxes.
Myth: Ms. Gardner “advanced school construction … including Frederick High School, as well as … Butterfly Ridge and Sugarloaf Elementary Schools.”
Fact: None of the schools mentioned by Ms. Gardner were “advanced” in any way. Frederick High School was moved up by the Young Board of County Commissioners in the 2012 Capital Improvement Program. The construction for Butterfly Ridge and Sugarloaf was delayed during her administration. They are only “on-track” because developers stepped up and forward-funded their construction when County Executive Gardner proposed raising taxes first.
Myth: Ms. Gardner has “advanced new and expanded parks, the Walkersville branch library, the Middletown fire station, and a number of county road/bridge projects…”
Fact: None of the projects mentioned were “advanced” at all. There is no instance of a Parks and Recreation, or road/bridge project, being advanced. The Walkersville branch library was planned in the 2012-17 CIP established by the Young Board of County Commissioners, and the majority of the Middletown fire station was funded in FY2013.
Myth: Ms. Gardner has “energized job creation” and created “over 4,200 jobs” in the “past two years”
Fact: The most recent publicly-available data doesn’t support this claim. From Q12015 to Q12017, total employment increased by 3,197 and private sector employment increased by 3,051. Even assuming that 4,200 jobs have been added, this would be on-par with job growth in the first two years of the Young Board, when private sector employment increased by 4,144. There is no sign that job creation has been “energized” at all – in fact, from June 2015 to June 2016, Frederick County was the only county in Maryland that experienced negative job growth.
Myth: Ms. Gardner has “earned the first ever AAA bond rating” for the country from “all three” ratings agencies
Fact: The county was awarded its first ever AAA bond rating in 2014, under the Young Board. This was after the county bond rating was lowered from “stable” to “negative” while Jan Gardner was President of the Board of County Commissioners. The Young Board achieved an AAA bond rating while cutting over 200 taxes and fees. Ms. Gardner’s administration, in recent years, has ballooned county spending and only kept the budget balanced by hiking property taxes.
Myth: Ms. Gardner “has kept taxes low with absolutely no property tax or income tax rate increases”
Fact: The income tax is a “piggy back” on the state income tax. During Gardner’s administration, the property tax rate has been set above the constant yield rate every year. By the state’s own definition, this is a tax increase on Frederick County taxpayers.
These are just some facts from a prior county commissioner and current councilman who witnessed this first hand and to clarify the misleading Letter to the Editor from the county executive.