Candidates were asked:
1. Would you favor a mandatory limit on annual percentage increases in the county budget? If so, what kind of limit would you set?
2. Are existing county controls on new housing development too stringent, adequate, or not stringent enough? What changes would you make?
3. Do you favor consolidation of the county's fire departments as one county department, similar to the police department, or would you retain the existing decentralized structure?
4. Do you think the county government is doing enough to attract new commercial and industrial development to the county? What specific steps, if any, would you take to attract such development? Albert Ceccone, of 10225 Kensington Pkwy., Kensington, is a self-employed real estate and insurance broker.
1. I would favor a mandatory limit on annual percentage increases in the county budget. In fact, in a speech to a Republican group on July 28 of this year, I pledged that I would make a recommendation of no increase in the county budget to existing taxpayers over the next four years. The only increase in the county budget I will recommend in my term as county executive will reflect on revenues created by business expansion and new development.
2. County controls on new housing development in Montgomery County over the past eight years has taken many forms: sewer moratoria, lack of government cooperation and ill-conceived planning and zoning policies. My administration will immediately develop a policy to meet our short-term sewer problem, and my administration will develop a long-term solution to our local sewer and water needs. County government will no longer be an adversary to quality development, but instead, government will become an expediter and aid in the development process. Finally, I will seek the restructuring of the Park and Planning Commission in order to facilitate coordination in planning and zoning to provide incentives for producing moderate income housing.
3. I do not favor the consolidation of the county's fire departments as one county department because of the high cost involved in such a measure, and I would retain the existing decentralized structure which is providing excellent fire protection. Because of the excellent fire protection afforded by our current system, fire insurance rates have been reduced in the past few years. It is my belief that a few minor changes in the 'Fire Board' structure would make the delivery of needed fire service more efficient and possibly more responsive, but certainly, no major overhaul is in order.
4. For the past eight years this county government has done very little to attract new commercial and industrial development to our county. However, in this election year, county government has done a complete 'about face' and is attempting to attract new commercial and industrial development in a manner which must be commended. Specifically, my role as county executive in this process would involve making government cooperation a reality and providing the expertise required in gaining the commitment to locate and expand in our county. Richmond M. Keeney, 48, of 9109 McDonald Dr., Bethesda, is membership and insurance director for the Air Force Association.
1. I favor such a limit and believe that the allowable percentage increase should be no more than the cost of living increase during the previous year. Equally important is the need to elect people who consciously want to slow down the growth of government and who genuinely believe there are limits as to what government can or should do.
2. Existing county controls over new development are in large part responsible for the high cost of housing. While many of these controls are needed, such as zoning density and storm water management, there are some which are unnecessary and only serve to drive up housing costs. The severe restrictions of the sewer and water envelope and the narrow staging controls over many recently adopted master plans are good examples since they sharply limit the availability of developable land. On the other hand, our existing subdivision and site plan review procedures are generally quite adequate, providing they continue to be applied in a consistent, objective manner.
3. Consolidation is desirable, but it is not feasible if it means that we must have a fully paid fire department. We can't afford that because our volunteer firemen cover a vast part of this county, and they perform excellent service. Hopefully we can work out some form of consolidation that will be amenable to both the paid and volunteer forces, but that compromise will have to respect the very different needs of both groups.
4. The county government has not done enough to attract new industry nor to encourage economic development. The recent report of the Economic Advisory Commission clearly points out that the county's percentage of revenues from its commercial and industrial tax base has been declining in recent years, and that the government's lack of concern and no-growth attitude has been largely responsible for this. Equally important is the need to expand employment opportunities, and this can only be done by creating a favorable climate for private sector investment. Affordable housing, convenient transportation and available land are prime requisites, but most important is the need for our business community to have greater confidence in government's willingness to be helpful. Gerald G. Warren, 37, of 17329 Whitaker Rd., Poolesville, is a lawyer. He has served as assistant county attorney in Montgomery County.
1. It is assumed that the budget must increase every year. I don't accept that assumption.
2. There are duplicate and triplicate government rules on developing identical subdivisions. I would eliminate the bottlenecks presently blocking the granting of sewer permits.
3. Yes. I would support a unitary fire department. However, I would preserve the decentralized function of fire prevention.
4. No. I would reduce the overall property taxes and the county piggy-back taxes, thereby making Montgomery County more attractive to new business.