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 now 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.?
Ronald S. Bird (R), 38, of 9544 Watkins Rd., gaithersburg, a Montgomery County police officer, is a program director and training coordinator at the Montgomery County Police Academy. He has served on the county's Employees' Disability Retirement Hearing Board and is active in civic and fraternal groups and the Army Reserves.
Housing: The county should establish rental unit zoning that is different from residential zoning, which would allow the county more control on conversion by control of zoning. In order to convert to condominium ownership, the apartment complex would have to file an application justifying the change. This application should include the sale price of the entire complex, thus allowing the opportunity for the present residents to obtain financial support to either buy their units or continue to rent them. With the continually rising cost of housing, we must ensure that any builder desiring to build rental units will specify the number of years the units will remain on the market as rental units. This will allow potential renters the opportunity to know where they stand.
Taxes: The idea behind Reaganomics is to remove bureaucracy from the programs and put into them more local control with fewer administrative costs. This will force the local governments to maintain more control of the programs. It is always easy to spend someone else's money and become extravagant. This is what is presently happening with many federal programs. The larger a bureaucrat can make his budget, the more he can justify his existence. Locally, we will review each program and justify the fiscal expenditures before we place the program in the budget. We owe it to the citizens to closely monitor how we spend their money.I would support increased taxes only if this were the sole source available to support the needed programs.
Disposal: We must fully evaluate our waste disposal methods and determine what problems we have and how we can best handle them. We already have put a lot of money into the solid waste transfer station at Shady Grove Road and Rte. 355, so we should put this complex to work to save us money. We should separate all solid waste as much as possible and reclaim all those materials available for recycling, thus generating income from our waste. With such a program we would need only minimal sanitary landfill and that would make rail hauling of waste a more viable solution for all parties involved.
Michael L. Gudis (D), incumbent, 46, of 14809 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, a County Council member since 1978, serves as vice president. An accountant with 25 years of financial experience in industry and government, he chairs the Maryland Association of counties' tax committee and serves on the governor's task force on income taxes.
Housing: I introduced legislation (which was passed) to provide tax deferrals for apartments that remain as rental units. Owners must provide apartments within a certain range of rents in order to qualify for the deferral. The back taxes are due and payable if the building owner converts to condominiums. When I represented the county government on the Maryland Association of Counties' legislative committee, we lobbied for a stronger state law on condominium conversions (which was passed). All of our central business district section plans have included increased density for apartment buildings. I support using tax-exempt funding and financing for moderate-rent apartments. I also support use of county-owned land, in appropriate areas, for moderate-rent apartments. I also support mixed-use highrises in commercial areas where commercial and residential uses can be built jointly and where the apartments can be built at lower costs because the costs can be allocated among a larger number of units.
Taxes: It is inevitable that federal funding of social service programs will be cut in the next four years. One of the ways we can absorb some of these cuts is to eliminate unnecessary overhead costs. We must also be prepared to consolidate various segments of county government (e.g., computer operations). My 25 years of experience in this area has provided me with the expertise necessary to accomplish this difficult job. I would be in favor of continuing those programs where the people affected by the cuts need the assistance of the county government. We must assist physically and mentally handicapped people in need. We also must make sure our programs are operating as efficiently as possible, so that we obtain the most for our tax dollars. If after cutting all unnecessary overhead costs we are still short of monies needed for funding of these vital programs, I would support an increase in taxes.
Disposal: We must keep an open mind on the problems we face. We live in a world where there have been great technological advances in the field of waste disposal. Planning must be begun years before the problems exist, and citizen input must be requested as an integral part of the planning and implementation process. I have led the battle on the council to consider the rail haul alternative. If this plan could be implemented, we could save millions of tax dollars and also would solve the air quality problems associated with the proposed incinerator. I will continue to push for alternatives to landfills and incinerators. I spoke out against trenching, and we found an alternative. With proper long-range planning and citizen support, we can solve our waste disposal problems.