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?
JoAnn T. Bell (D), 44, of 7008 Kipling Pkwy., District Heights, has been a member of the Prince George's County School Board since 1976, serving twice as chairman. She is a former school instructional reading aide. She is active in the League of Women Voters, the Women's Political Caucus and several advisory committees.
Growth: I do not favor the restriction of any public access to the zoning and planning process of development in Prince George's County. In fact, I would actively encourage public participation. I did just this as a member of the Board of Education, soliciting citizen imput and assistance when we made decisions affecting their communities, their schools and their services. After all, it's their county. The same rationale holds true for development. Our county suffered terribly because of the inadequacy of proper controls and supervision of development during the 1960s, and our citizens became the victims of over-zealous development that marked the suburbanization of the county. We now have effective laws and standards. There may be room for more efficiency, but not if it means denying citizens their rightful place in the decision-making process.Prince George's County deserves more than development for development's sake; it deserves development that serves the people.
Schools: We are lucky the cuts were not any worse than they actually were, and Mr. Hogan should be grateful that the school system managed the cuts so well. Teachers were not the only ones affected by the cuts; they were the last ones affected. The first cuts involved materials and things, such as texts and library books, equipment, supplies, summer school, athletics, evening high school, custodial work, music instruction, transportation, facilities, printing and much, much more. Next, the cuts hit administrative and supervisory personnel, further reducing an already overburdened and understaffed managerial force. Finally, the cuts involved teachers, but only because the school system sought to protect essential educational programs and services for students. Without those cuts, the system would have been seriously impaired. Even with them, the operations have been trimmed significantly. Anyone who suggests that these cuts were a publicity gimmick is just trying to hide his own responsibility for the inadequate funding of public education.
TRIM: Because our public services have reached a crippling effect and we need to keep them in top order in order to encourage new industries and development to our county, I favor a modification of TRIM. But only that portion that looks to new development and not the overburdened homeowner. I also would favor a yearly review on any modification.
Wilbert R. Wilson (R), 38, of 119 Harry S Truman Dr., Largo, is senior assistant to Prince George's County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan; his duties include directing a community drug intervention program and serving as county liaison to minority businesses. He has chaired a task force on drunk driving and served on the Mental Health Advisory Council.
Growth: I believe that citizens should have input into zoning matters that will affect their communities. The zoning process with citizen input is a healthy form of political feedback, which should be valuable to politicians in making decisions for the communities. Not to have this input from citizens would be detrimental and would lead to bitterness and hard feelings between citizens and government. This bitterness cannot be afforded.
Schools: It is my feeling that School Superintendent Edward Feeney and the Board of Education gravely miscalculated the 1983 fiscal year budget. I strongly believe that their priorities were mixed up when they RIFed 500 teachers. It could have been avoided with proper planning and a willingness on the part of the board to recentralize the administrative offices of the Board of Education, which would have saved part of their budget. To lay off teachers without a contingency plan for their future was inhumane. But even worse, not a single administrator was RIFed. Priorities to not merge the printing operation, fleet maintenance and the computer system with the county and forever protecting the administrative personnel is not in the best interest of our children. Educating our children should be the very first priority of any education system, and certainly our teachers should have received better treatment. The RIF of teachers and not some administrators was blatant and irresponsible. I believe that if the board would have maintained some continuity in planning the budget, no one would have been laid off.
TRIM: In a survey requested by me, of 400 people randomly selected in the 6th Council District, the results were overwhelmingly opposed at this time to the modification of TRIM. Out of 400 polled, 77 percent were against a modification of TRIM at this time, 19 percent were in favor and 4 percent undecided. The misconception being spread throughout the county is that TRIM will cut back county public services and the increase from additional TRIM revenues will go toward rehiring the teachers who have been RIFed. Well, this is just not true. In studying the TRIM Plus Four formula, I have been able to come up with an increase in the budget of only $7 million which is a 1.4 percent increase over the present budget. This increase will have to be divided among all agencies and not just the Board of Education. The catch in this formula is that your property tax rate will increase at a ceiling rate of 4 percent each year for the next your years.That ceiling at the end of four years will be a total of 16 percent. Even worse is the reassessment of 15 percent every three years instituted by the state. That along in the third year will be an increase of 19 percent -- an astronomical amount to pay at one time for property taxes. I believe that we in government need to act responsible to citizen's needs and, in order to project the real need, a feasibility study and joint audit is needed so that we might project better the real implications and cost to the citizens. But to panic and ask for modification without justification to validate our true need is dangerous and had management.