Candidates for county council 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 George's 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?
Frank P. Casula (D), incumbent, 62, of 904 Philip Powers Dr., Laurel, elected to the County Council in 1974, has been vice chairman and heads the human resources committee. He also served three terms on the Laurel City Council. Retired from the federal service, he serves on committees of the national and the state Association of Counties.
Growth: I feel the citizens of this county need a public forum and input wherein they can openly comment on land use. And the economic development of this county is essential to insure the democratic process.
Schools: The large part of the Board of Education's budget goes for salaries. The increased number of students per classroom can only be increased slightly beyond present levels before the learning process and disciplinary problems in the schools are affected. In addition, consideration must be given to the costs of debt repayment, fuel, busing and maintenance, leaving very little of the budget that does not consist of costs from one year to another.
TRIM: Yes. TRIM has been a cost-effective initiative in the county government. However, I feel that in view of inflation and the enormous reduction in federal and state funds that precluded the county's ability to fund some basic services, the 1983 budget required the reductions in school personnel and programs. Unless TRIM is modified, the future is bleak for Prince Georgians in the public safety sector and in some of our essential human services programs.
John E. Ritchie (R), 38, of 13113 Claxton Dr., Laurel, owns Brand Iron Inc., a construction equipment sales and service firm. He was a founder of the Southern Laurel Coalition for Education Budget Review and has been active in PTA. He is involved in scouting, and in business and professional groups.
Growth: The real target of your question is the recently passed Council Bill 101. In part, this legislation does restrain citizen input in certain zoning decisions. The intent of the bill was to speed up the development process in comprehensive design zones where citizen input had already been considered in the planning stage. Certainly, the County Council has a responsibility to keep the public informed and remain sensitive to the concerns of their constituents. However, we should recognize that land is a finite quantity and we must not be tempted to yield to the demands of special-interest groups, which may be in conflict with the general welfare of the community.
Schools: The Board of Education probably needed more money than it received in the fiscal year 1983 budget. The question is how much more? The board had a surplus last year of $18 million. Obviously, it either understated its income or overstated its expenses. Additionally, last spring the board warned that if their budget was not fully funded, we might lose 1,100 teachers. That figure has now dwindled to 425. Given the anguish that parents, students and teachers have been put through this year, I pray that the board's estimates are more accurate for fiscal year 1983. Indeed, the superintendent has made some dramatic cuts. As a concerned parent, I sincerely hope the intent was not to shock voters to induce the amendment of TRIM.
TRIM: Not now! For four years the County Council did nothing about seeking alternative revenue sources. Now they are trying to law a guilt trip on the homeowners and blame us for their mismanagement. Property taxes are not the county's only source of revenue. Additionally, in fiscal year 1982 we were $11.2 million short of the TRIM ceiling. Anyone who says we've reached the TRIM limit or that "Plus Four" will not raise your property taxes is simply not telling the truth. What about inflation? Inflation is down and will continue to go down. The last time I looked, we were in a deep recession.An increase in property taxes now would be unfair to the elderly, the unmeployed and the average homeowner just surviving from paycheck to paycheck. If the politicians in our county think it's tough now, wait until they try collecting taxes on vacant houses.