State Sen. Charles W. Gilchrist held the first press conference of his compaignias Democratic nominee for Montgomery County executive yesterday to reemphasize his intention to fight for more state aid for the county, particularly in education funds.
"I will draw on my familiarity with the General Assembly and work closely with the delegation, the county executives to assure that Montgomery County is not short-changed," said Gilchrist.
Meanwhile, his Republican opponent, Richmond M. Keeney, put less distance between himself and the tax-cuttinf charter referendum TRIM (Taz Relief in Montgomery) by stating that he "does not know" whether he will vote for or against TRIM next Tuesday.
Earlier in the campaign, Keeney had stated flatly that he "opposed" TRIM and proposed his tax-cutting alternative, which would roll back property tax rates five percent a year for four years and reduce government expenditures more gradually - but more extensively over the long run - that TRIM.
As TRIM's momentum began building and his own party came out in support of the charter amendment, keeney has declined to state his "opposition," saying instead that he "prefers" his tax-cutting plan.
Gilchrist and the Democratic organization have denounced TRIM as a "meat-axe" approach to reducing government costs.
"I'm relly neutral on it," Keeney said yesterday. "I do not think I should be in the position of trying to persuade voters one day or other on TRIM."
"I'm beginning to think it may well be implemented without sacrificing the delivery of services that I think are needed, and I guess I feel that the opponents of TRIM have perhaps overstated their case," said Keeny.
Gilchrist yesterday softened his previous refusal to list specific cuts he would make in the face of TRIM's estimated minimum of $26 million in revenue reduction and the certain $21 million deficit that could be carried over to the 1980 budget.
Gilchrist endorsed the County Council's proposed resolution requesting agencies to fill only half of the current vancies in county jobs in the 1979 fiscl year and fill only one out of three vacancies that may develop in the remainder of the year.
He took the opportunity to criticize as indiscriminating keeney's proposal for an across-the-board hiring freeze, which Gilchrist said would reduce "up to 75 positions which have directly to do with public safety."
"I think it is dead wrong to take a shoot-from-the hip approach in promising specific savings," said Gilchrist. "We need a measured, comprehensive approach."
Gilchrist added further he would "immediately impose a moratorium on uncommitted capital spending," and recommend funding of programs that "pass the cost effective test."
He said he would request "sunset legislation" establishing a time limit on the life of county boards and commissions and eliminate "duplication and fragmentation" in government such as in the housing field, which he targeted specifically.
Gilchrist said the county must "protect and increase" its state aid for education by "making the case" that education costs "substantially more" in Montgomery than in other parts of the state, He critcized the administration of incumbent Republican executive James P. Gleason for not giving enough support to that effort.
With Montgomery Del. Lucille Maurer, who helped devise the educational formulas, and Sen. Victor Crawford, chairman of the county senators, beside him, Gilchrist said in-would support a "cost-of-Education index" that would delineate what each dollar of educational services buys in Montgomery in comparision to other states localities.