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?
Joseph R. Drewer (R), 36, of 5004 Fox St., College Park, is a public accountant and management consultant who teaches at Ben Franklin University and Prince George's Community College. A Vietnam veteran, he is active in a local Republican club, the Lions Club, the American Legion, his civic association and the county's Board of Trade.
Growth: The zoning and planning procedures is Prince George's County were developed with the concept of protecting the citizens and municipalities by providing for their review in developing the county's economic base. The current developer-controlled Democratic council attempted to abrogate these rights with council bills 101, 103 and 105. The shrill yells of the municipalities have caused some delays and reconsiderations, but have not stopped entirely the unwarrented assault on local rights. As an elected municipal officer, I know these rights are needed and I will keep them available. The citizens and property owners in the nonincorporated areas deserve their current protection.
Schools: The current number of school layoffs is now down to 424, not the original 1,500 forecast at the beginning of this staged "crisis." Meanwhile, the school system has received 4.6 percent funding per student above inflation than it had in 1979; translated, this means increased purchasing power. The schools have lost 22,000 students in four years. This year's 5,000 reduction amounted to 4.4 percent of the student body. The original layoff of 507 teachers equaled only a 3.2 percent reduction; the system's total work force was reduced by only 2.8 percent. Conclusion: Good management should have obtained about the same percentreduction in the staff. Teachers shared an unequal proportion in the cutbacks; our children are suffering due to this massive mismanagement of government money! Meanwhile, the human services department is behind inflation by 14.3 percent -- less purchasing power with more applicants needing basic assistance!
TRIM: TRIM works! The purpose of TRIM is to slow down the rising tax bills of property owners. Prior to TRIM, tax bills increased based on the inflated value of real property. Quite often the increased tax bill outweighed gains in personal income, thus eating further into the household budget. TRIM has slowed down tax bill increases. A second benefit of TRIM has been the forced implementation of efficiency by the county executive! Having slowed the ever-increasing stream from the taxpayer's pocket, the citizens have been the recipient of a more efficiently managed county government (except for the schools). In 1978 the people effectively took control of the government's purse strings! Paragraph (c) of TRIM allows for a modification of the revenue formula and should be implemented before any other changes. My opponent supported Plus Four, a tax increase scheme which will take away taxpayer control again! It is not needed!
James M. Herl (D), 29, of 7413 Baylor Ave., College Park, is a legislative aide to County Council member Frank P. Casula. Previously, he was community affairs assistant to former County Executive Winfield Kelly. He is active in local Democratic organizations and has been a board member for a number of community programs.
Growth: The requirements in question were established to assure well-planned development throughout the county, which maintains the essential quality of life for all of our citizens. A most important ingredient is citizen input. Without such input and meaningful design standards, development would be unrestricted and surely incompatible with the needs of our residents and their communities. Removing these safeguards in our county procedures will invite unwanted and unnecessary overdevelopment. Rather than simply characterizing those requirements as "obstacles" that should be eliminated, concerned developers will treat them as essential elements in the best interest of growth and prosperity in Prince George's County. These developers along with the county government and concerned citizens need to work together to evolve the design standards to keep pace with the changing requirements of our county. To simply eliminate these requirements as "obstacles" to progressive development is radical action not befitting an enlightened government
Schools: Quality education is dispensed in the classrooms of our schools and not in the meeting rooms of our several school system administration buildings. We need to begin to carefully evaluate our educational system's administrative overhead and the bureaucracy that has evolved to support it. Without question, some reduction in the number of teachers was justified in view of the declining enrollment. Reductions leading to increases in class size, however, appears counterproductive. While the problems facing our classroom teachers continue to grow, the administrative burden is declining, as is the enrollment and the number of operating schools. Some balance must be established that recognizes that declining enrollment necessitates reductions in system overhead as well as the number of classroom teachers. The political rhetoric during the last budget process clouded the real issues. All parties need to make serious efforts in the future to reduce the cost of our educational system through informed negotiation, not misplaced political interests that ignore the needs of our children.
TRIM: Although I support the "new development" provision of the TRIM Plus Four modification, I do not support and would not vote to increase the taxes for current homeowners, who now pay a disproportionate share of the property tax burden (70.1 percent in fiscal year 1983). It only makes sense that when new residential, commercial and industrial projects are constructed, all of which require county services, that the county be able to collect added revenue to pay for this delivery of service, and TRIM Plus Four will allow this. The time has come for consideration of a "tier tax," where different rates would apply to different classes of property. This would help to shift the property tax burden away from the homeowner and move toward the creation of a more equitable tax base under which all would pay their fair share.