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The Tentacle


Offer Solution, Not Empty Rhetoric

April 28, 2006

Whatever happened to studied, thoughtful public debate on issues? The education of our children is important to almost everyone in Frederick County I am quite sure. I just don't get what's happening?

A private developer, who bought another developer out of bankruptcy, wants to finish a long dormant and officially approved development.

Here's where I need some education. The state provides a good chunk of the revenue needed to assure the building of adequate facilities for education. We taxpayers have been paying for this out of increases in our real estate taxes and impact fees on every new home purchased in the county since the early 1990s.

Other hookup, add-on and doo-dad fees are implemented as deemed necessary by our esteemed elected officials. The state apparently has a mechanism where by - if they don't have the money to fund a project, in this case a new or remodeled school building - they can carry forward any allocations to future years.

I'm trying to get this straight. The state passes a budget which includes school construction monies for each county. However, the state can renege on the obligation by promising the money down the road, which could be years. This is in effect an IOU.

There have been numerous articles in the papers regarding the overcrowded Linganore schools. School officials, school board members, county commissioners and parents complain about aging buildings and the new buildings needed to accommodate too many kids; all this according to the state's formula for school capacity.

Land Stewards, the evil developer, offers to pay $65 million to build new schools and remodel others in the area. This will cover both the increase in homes they are building and also future needs for their development: $65 million!

Some county commissioners and citizens, to whom certain local media provide a bully pulpit to forward their collective point of view, think that we must not do this. They say it provides nothing for the current state of overcrowded schools. They say we shouldn't do anything to alleviate the problem if it doesn't follow the mandated state school capacity requirements.

Here's my problem.

I'm a businessman and profit motive isn't evil.

Land Stewards, or any developer who steps up and offers to pay for meaningful school improvements, should be allowed to make this contribution. I am so sick of hearing about all the things that can not or should not be done. All the anti-developer, anti-business side adds to the debate is to talk about their perceived problems with the APFO text amendment.

Where is their solution to so-called school overcrowding?

Overcrowding as defined by whom? I went to a public school in the midst of Baby Boomer growth. My class sizes were never less than 30. I graduated, went to college and have been successful throughout my career. My children are happy, responsible individuals with strong values. Where did my parents go wrong?

Let's start laying our cards on the table. Controlled growth does not mean let's complain and block all attempts at growing our county's population.

Using any excuse to prohibit the opportunities for more people to enjoy the quality of life those of us who live here now enjoy is not a controlled growth attitude it is a no growth attitude.

I can respect Lenny Thompson because his no growth, anti-business sentiments are public record. Why can't those of you, who express your concerns regarding growth in Frederick County by dumping on business, step out of the shadows? Tell us exactly where you stand, why you take this position against growth and then do something constructive for a change. Join the debate by providing viable options that work for taxpayers.

As a business manager I have never had the luxury of simply increasing my product prices to cover overspending. If my revenues aren't sufficient to cover my expenses, I cut my expenses. Perhaps if those of you in the public sector did the same, we wouldn't be wasting time arguing like an old married couple about who is right and who is wrong.

Don't cry about the problems you see associated with growth without proposing your alternatives and why. Be honest with us. If you are against growth, say so.

We at 930 WFMD-AM stand firmly on the side of controlled growth for Frederick County. We are pro business. If you're running for political office in the coming local elections, let us know what you stand for, please. We want the voting public to have as much information as possible so that they can make the best decision when they go to the polls this fall.

If you'd like, you can email me at doug.hillard@clearchannel.com.

Doug Hillard, VP/Market Manager, WFMD/WFRE Radio, Frederick


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