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?
Richard J. Castaldi (D), 38, of 11-V Ridge Rd., Greenbelt, is a zoning supervisor for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. As current mayor of Greenbelt and a board member of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, he is active in county advisory committees.
Growth: No. I do not believe that citizen input stymies economic growth. In fact, responsible citizen participation contributes greatly to quality development and often provides the community acceptance needed to stimulate additional development. Development must be balanced among residential, commercial and quality employment centers. In this era of high-priced fuel and transportation and high unemployment, our objective must be to keep residential neighborhoods and employment centers in their proper locations but available to each other. In the process, careful planning will be required to preserve green space, modify and upgrade roads and supporting facilities, and enforce standards of design. As a zoning/planning official, I know the value of citizen input in achieving these objectives.
Schools: Certainly, this year's school budget was underfunded. As a product of the Prince George's County public school system, I am distressed by the resulting erosion in the quality of education provided to the children of this county. The school system ought to have the very highest priority in the county budget. When budget cuts are absolutely necessary, we must reduce administrative costs before removing teachers from the classroom or courses from the curriculum. Our children are our future. To sacrifice our future in the name of current expediency is false economy. Our children deserve the very best education we can provide.
TRIM: The TRIM amendment must be modified. We cannot finance county services in the '80s with 1979 dollars. The proposed Plus Four modification of TRIM appears to be a useful means of meeting our responsibilities for the next decade. This proposal would permit property tax revenues to be increased at a rate substantially less than that projected for the annual growth rate of the county. Therefore, the increase in revenue would be financed entirely by an expanding tax base; individual property taxes would not be increased. I also am concerned about the equitability of a tax structure that lays 70 percent of the burden on the homeowner. Clearly, a system is needed to provide a more equitable distribution of tax liabilities between homeowners and commercial/industrial establishments.
Kenneth D. Powell (R), 23, of 6925 Lamont Dr., Lanham, has completed two degrees in government and politics and in economics from the University of Maryland. He a lifelong resident of Prince George's County.
Growth: The zoning and planning procedures of the past years have created an adversary system and leaves both developers and citizens bitter, angry and helpless.The old system delays long-range quality land use plans, while smaller scale shoddy plans ease through the labyrinth because less attention is attracted. The conflict stains the county with a poorly planned miss-match of facilities. I have a solution because Prince George's County needs well-planned, quality development to provide jobs, homes and renewed growth. Citizens and government must form a new partnership with our developers to revitalize the poorly planned and zoned areas, while simultaneously directing new development to supplement existing facilities. I will provide the necessary balance to land use policies by promoting new development and business ventures while supporting the legitimate concerns of the electrorate.
Schools: Both Superintendent Edward Feeney and County Executive Lawrence Hogan are knowledgable political figures in Prince George's County. Mr. Feeney says the school budget was cut by $2 million; he is correct. But Mr. Hogan indicates that the amount of tax dollars invested in education per student has kept up with inflation. This apparent contradiction has worsened with the declining enrollments over the past decade. We are challenged with the responsibility of raising test scores, retaining our good teachers and training our youth to lead productive lives at a reasonable cost and with limited resources. I will assure parents that tax dollars reach the classroom. The money is needed to hire, retain and reward our best teachers. Also, I will demand that learning aids, texbooks and special equipment reach the classroom level. I will help fund our school system and meet the challenge, because the young people of Prince George's County are our greatest hope.
TRIM: On Nov. 2 we have an important decision. Every ballot will ask voters if property tax dollars alone can solve every problem. Voters in the 4th District are concerned because property taxes here are higher than average. But our district expects quality county services, schools and public safety programs. Luckily, the voter will determine the fate of property taxes in Prince George's County. For the next four years we will need a councilman who can adequately fund county programs, reduce county debt and keep property taxes at reasonable levels. I can lead the country under the measures of TRIM and am flexible enough to provide the necessary fiscal restraint under the measures of Plus Four. Only quality leadership can rescue our government from uncertainty and doubt.