Candidates for Prince George's County Executive and candidates for the County Council were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
TRIM: Do you favor modification of the tax-limiting TRIM amendment, and if so, what proposals would you support?
Growth: What kinds of growth should the county encourage and what means can be used to encourage it?
Housing: What type of housing should the county seek -- single family, town-houses, high-rises, moderate-income, subsidized public projects, others?
Richard J. Castaldi (D), 37, of 11-V Ridge Rd., Greenbelt, is a zoning supervisor for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. As current mayor of Greenbelt and a board member of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, he is active in county advisory committees.
TRIM: TRIM must be modified. This is no reasonable way to operate the county government through the 1980s using 1979 budget dollars. I support TRIM Plus 4; the 4 percent increase in property tax revenues is necessary to maintain services, school systems and road improvements so important to a county attempting to compete for new business and citizens. The resulting economic growth and development should easily exceed the 4 percent mark, thus protecting the property owners from higher individual taxes.
Growth: Commercial development in Prince George's County has long been unbalanced; we have entirely too much warehouse-type industry and not enough planning. I favor more extensive development in two specific areas: 1) high-quality commercial office development to attract corporate headquarters and professional firms, and 2) spacious, modern industrial parks to attract "high-tech" firms like those associated with the Interstate 70 corridor in Montgomery County. The Washington Business Park Center, Inglewood Center and Metro East may also serve as models for what I have in mind. To encourage this kind of development, I would better utilize the administrative tools already in place: fast-track permit process and development bonds for quality development and tax Incremental Financing (TIFs) for improving and developing the associated public facilities. Obviously, we must also provide quality housing for the employes attracted.
Housing: Housing must be available for families and individuals at all stages of their lives: singles, young couples, established professionals and retired senior citizens. In its housing supply, the county must strive to improve the quality of life for all its residents. Housing in Prince George's County currently is unbalanced in favor of rental garden-type apartments. The county desperately needs more single-family residences. To this end, I would encourage development of free-standing homes, with some mixture of town houses and condominiums. Additional rental apartments, especially garden-type, ought to be discouraged. As the county's population is growing older, I will be especially alert to the need for more special housing for our senior citizens.
Roy I. Dabney Jr. (D), (Incumbent) 40, of 15700 Penn Manor La., Bowie, is an assistant vice president of the First American Bank of Maryland. A county councilman since 1980, he has served on local advisory committees for trade and tourism, economic development and vocational education, and he is active in Cerebral Palsy groups.
TRIM: Yes, I feel that TRIM should be modified to permit flexibility in the amount of taxes collected, and it should be based on current assessment values.
Growth: The county should encourage more clean and pollution-free industry, which is needed to provide job opportunities of various types to the citizens of the county. The availability of land, adequate roads, a viable educational system, reduce crime and a good mixture of affordable housing.
Housing: The county should seek a mixture of different types of housing, from single-family homes, town houses and moderate-income homes to condominiums and high-rises.
Al James Golato (D), 57, of 12712 Knowledge La., Bowie, is corporate director of public affairs for H&R Block Inc. He has been chairman of the Prince George's County school board and a member of the Bowie City Council. He is active in civic and fraternal groups, Democratic clubs and local planning committees.
TRIM: Although TRIM must be preserved to keep down real estate taxes, I favor amending it to permit our country to benefit from new economic growth. I support the proposal passed by the County Council. But I also propose to search for other ways to increase revenues without further burdening homeowners. For instance, since the county receives a share of the state income tax which uses the federal system as its base, we and the state should cooperate with the federal government in collecting unpaid taxes from the "underground economy" and shady tax shelters. Our county's share of this unpaid income tax is about $20 million -- enough to improve considerably the funding of education and public safety without increasing county taxes.
Growth: We should attract clean, high-grade commercial development that will expand our tax base and increase higher-paying employment opportunities for our residents. We should seek office buildings, research and development centers, top-grade restaurants, hotels and conference centers. We should put a stop to our county's use as the metropolitan area's dumping ground for ugly warehouses with few employment opportunities and the road-destroying and unsightly truck stops. And we should curtail approving zoning for fast-food restaurants and strip commercial development without adequate street curbing, tree buffers and shrubbery requirements. We should encourage desirable growth by providing public services speedily and ensuring adequate roads for the added traffic flow. Our lower land cost is currently a nongovernment incentive for desirable growth.
Housing: The ideal would be a balanced mix of all to accommodate to the needs of our varied population and to attract diversity. But Prince George's County already has more than its fair share of low-income and subsidized housing in the Washington metropolitan area. I think we should now wait for Montgomery County and Virginia to catch up with their fair share of this type of housing for a while, as we try to upgrade ours. We should seek more single-family homes and some moderate- to upper-income high- rises and town houses. We need more higher-income residents who are able to contribute more of the taxes needed to fund public services and for the added responsibilities the county will assume under the New Federalism.
William W. Wildman (D), 60, of 8609 Maple Ave., Bowie, a retired financial manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, has been mayor of Bowie and a member of the City Council. He has served on several local task forces for economic development and has been president of Bowie Citizens Association.
TRIM: Yes, I favor modification of the TRIM amendment. I will support a proposal to broaden the tax base covering new construction and additions, remove ceilings of aggregate real property tax and provide adjustments to the tax rate based on selected elements of the costs of living index. I would also support an amendment to the state law concerning tax assessments in an attempt to continue a method of control of county and state real property taxes.
Growth: The county should develop a vigorous program encouraging industries that can utilize the labor markets and facilities we have to offer. We should encourage commercial and industrial development, including product assembly-type operations, scientific and technical research and development institutions, computer industries and a meaningful program in developing our "free trade zone." To encourage such development, we should eliminate the myriad stumbling blocks that commercial and industrial developers currently face. We should establish a "one-stop shopping service" to provide all license and permits to "break ground" for these businesses. Time is money to any venture. Delays are costly and turn developers away. Prince George's County is about 350 years old. It is time we had a set of smooth operating rules that are attractive to economic development. Leadership is the keystone. We now have a golden opportunity to provide the leadership.
Housing: Prince George's housing needs encompass most types of housing; however, I have strong reservations concerning high-rise housing in the suburban atmosphere that prevails in the majority of the county. We should ensure that housing needs of all income levels are provided, and most assuredly that rental properties will be a continuing part of the housing stock. Subsidized housing will continue to be a need that must be filled and which I advocate.