Candidates for county executive were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Growth: A number of observers believe requirements such as citizen input into planning decisions and certain design standards have stymied economic growth in Prince Georges County. Do you favor removing such obstacles in order to attract new economic development?
Schools: School Superintendent Edward J. Feeney said that the schools were underfunded this year, causing the layoff of 507 teachers. County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan and other politicians maintained that the budget was sufficient and that Feeney's cuts were more dramatic than necessary. What do you think?
TRIM: Do you favor modification of the tax-limiting TRIM amendment? If so, what changes would you support?
William B. Amonett (D), incumbent, 51, of 11704 Redwood Dr., Brandywine, a member of the County Council since 1974, served as chairman for two years and has headed committees on budget and programs for youth. A real estate broker-appraiser and a Navy veteran, he has been active in civic affairs in the county for more than 25 years.
Growth: We must never seek to eliminate citizens' input into the important decisions of government. We must, however, continue to simplify the process into which citizens' input is handled. Simplification works to the advantage of all parties in planning and zoning decisions. Notable strides have been made during the past eight years toward simplifying procedures. In our anxiety for more jobs and more development, we must not place undue road blocks in the paths of citizens vitally interested in their communities.
Schools: The school system set its own priorities, which resulted in the firming of more than 500 teachers. Unfortunately, the County Council does not have line-item control over how the school system's budget is spent. If money needed to be saved, much of those savings could have been realized through the consolidated of administration offices, other administrative cuts and waste. The classroom is the very last place any reduction in sdervices should occur. Revenues were needed in some parts of the school budget because some of the school employes did not get their cost-of-living increases. However, until such time as those properly prioritized cuts that could have been made are, in fact, made, it is difficult to determine exactly how much revenue the school system really needs. The problem was how the funds were used.
TRIM: The question of the amendment to TRIM will be answered by the people of Prince George's County on Nov. 2 at the polls. As a councilman, I am committed to carrying out the directives of the people.There is no question that we need additional revenue, and to this end I created a task force to study alternative financing for county government. In coming months that task force will be studying ways and means to finance our government. I am confident that we can find a way to get the burden of financing county government off the backs of county homeowners.
Ella E. Ennis (R), 42, of 712 Calvert La., Fort Washington, a legislative specialist, served as Prince George's County liaison to state and federal government for two years and has been a staff assistant in the Maryland House of Delegates. She is active in the Fort Washington Estates Citizens Association and political and professional groups.
Growth: Economic development is a cooperative process; neither citizen input nor quality design standards are obstacles. Responsible, enlightened self-interest of the investor and the public seeks to achieve projects that are beneficial to both. Since citizen taxes cover financing of many services to new development (e.g., roads, water, sewage), citizens have a legitimate share and voice in the process. Public confidence in planning and zoning decisions would be much greater here if the frequent promises of quality development were more faithfully executed in practice. High-quality design standards, consistently applied, serve to attract quality development by assuring that adjacent development is of like quality. This preserves the investor's equity. In the south county, planning criteria should promote balance between rural and suburban communities, ensuring open space zoning and farm preservation districts where appropriate. Projects must be environmentally safe, economically cost-beneficial and of equal or greater quality than surrounding development.
Schools: Classroom programs must be the first priority in the school board budget. However, the board unnecessarily sacrificed classroom programs and teachers to preserve an administrative bureaucracy. Alternatives to these cuts (which are still available to the board) are to: 1) consolidate the three regional offices and their management staffs; 2) merge the printing, purchasing and vehicle maintenance operations with those of the county government; 3) reduce paperwork requirements of teachers by reviewing and consolidating forms; 4) allow some partially sustaining afternoon sport events; 5) streamline the administrative structure and eliminate overlapping professional functions; 6) sell excess, unused and undeveloped future sites; 7) allow rental of empty classrooms for before- and after-school day care centers by licensed providers, and 8) seek reductions in the kinds and number of federally required reports through our congressional representatives. Given the county's resources, the budget total was adequate, but the board's emphasis was misdirected.
TRIM: TRIM, in its present form, should be retained for at least two more years. Even with TRIM, Prince Georgians are the second-highest taxed citizens of all jurisdictions in the metropolitan area. In the short term, government economies and sound fiscal management can still generate necessary revenues to assure the delivery of county government services -- if the County Council will exercise some leadership and initiative. In the longer term, needed additional revenue can be realized through careful expansion of the economic base. The creation of additional jobs in high-technology, clean industry will increase the yield of the piggyback income tax revenue for the county. *we must carefully monitor the housing market in Prince George's County to assure that quality housing starts are consistent with the long-range goal of balancing the cost of providing county services.