Candidates for county council were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Housing: What should the county do, if anything, to forestall the continued conversion of middle-income rental housing to condos? What zoning changes or incentives would encourage developers to build more moderate-rent apartments?
Taxes: Should the county subsidize federal social service programs how being cut and would you support increased taxes in the next four years to pay these costs?
Disposal: How can Montgomery County best deal with its long-range waste disposal problems: rail hauling, the new incinerator, new landfills etc.?
Esther P. Gelman (D), incumbent, 51, of 8719 Postoak Rd., Potomac has been a member of the County Council since 1974. She was a county planning commissioner from 1970 to 1974 and has chaired planning committes of several area organizations. She has been a teacher and reporter, and is vice president of the Maryland Association of Counties.
Housing: To retain affordable rental housing, the county should be prepared to provide lower interest loans for necessary maintenance. Such loans should be conditioned on the extension of the use of the property at reasonable rents. Should property be sold, loans should be required to be paid back at higher interest rate. To build moderate-rent apartments, government should inventory appropriately zoned private and public lands, i.e., excess school and road sites. Mortgage revenue bonds can be used to provide lower interest rates for construction loans. Religious groups and pension funds should be encouraged to invest in apartments. We must be prepared to utilize available federal programs. Several years ago, I sponsored a resolution to give top priority in processing such applications. Passage of the resolution, and the resulting priority processing, resulted in over 2,000 apartments financed by 7 3/4 percent, 40-year mortgages. Each apartment rents for $150 to $200 per month less than would have been required by use of prevailing rates.
Taxes: To date, the Montgomery County government has been able to make up for almost all federal funds cut from social service programs. For future federal cuts, that will not be possible; so the executive and council must together evaluate each program to provide first for emergency human needs -- food, shelter, medical care, special education and school lunches. Our next priorities should include loans for education, job training and creation of a job clearinghouse. If federal cuts are made on the theory that local governments can best serve the needs of local residents, then local government must be given revenue sources other than property taxes.
Disposal: Montgomery County can best deal with long-range waste disposal problems by negotiating a rail-haul contract. To make rail haul a reality, negotiations must take place at the gubernatorial level, followed by county level negotiations. Waste disposal has become so costly that it now makes financial and environmental sense to compact non-putrescible trash for hauling. A sanitary landfill will be required for disposing of non-transportable disposal waste and for backup.
Michael C. Helmantoler (R), 34, of 9218 Hummingbird Ter., Gaithersburg, is a computer consultant and businessman. He has been a congressional affairs director for the Commerce Department and a staff member of the U.S. House Science and Technology Committee. He has been active in condominium and homeowners associations.
Housing: Condo conversions are the result of economic forces brought about by legislative activism such as rent controls or subsidized housing. Fortunately, the Revenue Act of 1981 has made depreciation of rental units attractive to housing providers, and, thus, condo conversions in Montgomery County are not the threat they were under rent control. The county can assure the continued supply of rental housing by assisting providers in obtaining below-market financing in exchange for long-term commitments that the property will stay affordable and that rent increases will not exceed the inflation rate.
Taxes: Few, if any, cuts will be made in federal programs in Montgomery County. Those programs affected are primarily a result of exchanges between the federal and state governments under the New Federalism. Any funds saved by not having to send them to Washington to be sent back to the county through state and local revenue sharing, should be spent on the social service programs that may be affected during the changeover from federal to state funding. Our commitment to the social service programs remains constant; we are only cutting out the federal middlemen.
Disposal: Laytonsville is the last of the landfills; at $20 million per hole, we cannot afford to continue this medieval methodology. The incinerator is insidious, and it will destroy the county's budget, credit and citizens. Rail haul of recovered resources is reasonable; metals are marketable, plastics are processible and organics are oxidizable. What is left can be compacted and will fit into the remaining landfills. The Rock Run waste water treatment plant will not be needed if we don't build a thirsty incinerator and can keep the rain water out of the lines to Blue Plains. The budget cannot afford Rock Run.