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? Charles W. Gilchrist, 41, 10730 Connecticut Ave., Kensington, is a state senator and a tax attorney.
1. I do not support charter limits on government spending but will enforce them vigorously if enacted. I do support the election of officials who will face tough fiscal issues. As state senator I served as co-chair of the Legislative Joint Committee on Pension Legislation, and worked for Maryland state pension reform. I support a meaningful line-item budget veto for the county executive, requiring a five-vote rather than four-vote override by the County Council.
2. Existing county controls add thousands of dollars to the cost of new housing. I favor the exisitng level of public input into the development process, but I believe that a streamlining of the subsequent red tape of the subdivision process is essential.
Regulatory controls in Montgomery County have increased the cost of developed lots by almost 60 percent since 1972. This translates into an increase in cost to the consumer from $9,600 per finished lot in 1972 to $15,200 in 1977. This substantial increase can best be halted by reduction in the time consumed in the subdivision process from the point of plan approval to actual construction of the development.
3. I have long favored consolidation under the present decentralized system. Sixteen fire departments and two rescue squads purchase their own equipment, administer their own training and have extensive fiscal autonomy. This inconsistency and dispersion has produced a morale problem, a training problem and a waste of money. I firmly believe that a consolidation will: a.) increase cooperation among the 16 fire departments and two rescue squads which have like missions to perform; b.) permit management to shift fire apparatus and equipment to areas where it is needed without having to be concerned about endless turf battles between departments; c.) permit establishment of consistent personnel and training policies for all departments; d.) improve morale of professional firefighters while at the same time preserving a strong tranditional volunteer element in the fire and rescue service.
4. I believe that Montgomery County government has not done enough to attract such development. I support a vigorous program of economic development to identify and to attract appropriate new businesses, such as trade associations and corporate headquarters. I would direct my personal attention to this effort. My program will: a.) improve funding of the Office of Economic Development to compete with other area jurisdiction; b.) use state financing programs and tax incentives where appropriate; c.) encourage increased tourism based on local points of interest and existing hotel-motel facilities, and d.) emphasize the revitalization of Silver Spring, with greater reliance on input from the business community. John L. Menke, 37, of 22341 Old Hundred Rd., Barnesville, formerly was a physicist and has been a Montgomery County Council member since 1974.
1. I favor the council and executive establishing an annual ceiling on total county expenditures. The ceiling should be based on county economic growth, inflation rates and on such factors as population growth, age structure, income levels or major problems. I do not favor mandatory limits in the County Charter on annual percentage increases in the county budget. Such limits do not improve efficiency and they tend to force expenditures by state and federal governments at higher costs. They also allow officials to escape responsibility for setting priorities and make fiscal decisions. All agencies should justify both existing and proposed programs, establish spending priorities, improve productivity and reveal long-term fiscal impacts of programs and projects.
2. I oppose excessive controls that frustrate the construction of moderate-priced housing. I have supported modular home construction and the use of new building technology and materials. I also support more flexible concepts of zoning and subdivision that permit better design and lower costs. Certain environmental controls are necessary, such as retention of storm water, but we should consider using performance standards instead of rigid formulae, and public/private cooperation to lower costs for furnished lots. Many of our building codes should be reviewed closely to determine whether they are cost-effective in protecting the consumer. We must shorten the time consumed to obtain permits. I support growth management based on the idea that development should be encouraged where it can be well served with public facilities at reasonable cost, and discouraged where it cannot. I support zoning and sewerage policies that channel growth to well-planned locations and keep it out of areas reserved for agriculture and open space.
3. There needs to be stronger central control over capital programs, budget and management of each unit. We should keep a measure of local initiative for local support and volunteers to save tax dollars.
4. The county can do more, although our position is very good when compared with counties in this area. Several actions are needed: a.) reliable water supply and sewer treatment facilities. A specific alloation for tha revitalization of the Silver Spring business district is needed; b.) the provision of adequate transportation facilities to move people and goods to employment centers. We should complete Metro to serve the major down-county employment centers. Road improvements are needed to serve people and industries of the 1-270 corridor. Without good roads, this area, where most of our vacant industrial land is located, will not be able to develop; c.) a first-class educational system; d.) a good supply of affordable homes; e.) an honest and fiscally prudent local government that is well-managed and stable; f.) leadership by the county executive to create a public climate friendly to business and economic growth. Royce Hanson, 47, of 8212 Killean Way, Potomac, is chairman of the County Planning Board and a member of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
1. Yes.I have co-authored a Charter amendment to limit budget increases to the inflation rate, unless an extraordinary council majority should vote a larger increase. I have also proposed that we put a two-year cap on further county staff expansion so that we can get spending under better management control. County staff is growing four times faster than our population; we cannot afford for this to continue. Only such stringent controls will force managers to make the choices between marginal and new programs.
2. Too stringent. The major limit on new housing has been the sewer moratorium, which has now been lifted. Our task is to guide housing growth into planned areas, to provide it with adequate public facilities and to encourage a mix of housing prices. The building code, development review and zoning process is too long and complex, and needs simplification. I am now in the porcess of proposing legislation to simplify the development authorization process by providing balanced consideration of regulatory proposals and their economic impact.
3. The existing volunteer/career, decentralized fire service offers the advantages of lower cost with strong community involvement. We do need changes to improve management and the quality of service; however, we should not destroy our volunteer system in an attempt to improve it.
4. As county executive, I will combine citizen and business input in preparing an economic development plan, one which goes beyond the recent council resolution which I proposed. We must then carry out the plan to stimulate new and beneficial business in Montgomery County and to assist existing business to expand. Ad with housing, we must be decisive in supplying needed water, sewer and transportation services, or all our plans will be worth nothing.