THERE ARE 14 questions on the ballot for voters in Prince George's County that cover a wide range of subjects, including bond issues and proposals to change the structure of the county government. Clearly the hottest of these topics in terms of campaign debate are covered in Questions K, L and M, which would affect the size an composition of the county council and deserve to be defeated.
Here is the alphabetical lineup: BONDS
Question a -- roads: This would permit the county to build new roads and improve old ones, as well as undertake drainage projects and repairs of curbs and gutters. FOR.
Question b -- metrobuses: Eighty percent of the capital improvement costs for Metrobus purchases are paid for by the federal government, the remainder by state and local government. This important ballot proposal would permit a $1-million bond issue to cover the county's share, which is determined by ridership. FOR.
Question c -- Foreign Trade Zone Improvement: A vote For means the county could sell $2.1 million in bonds for a 77-acre "foreign trade zone" south of Bowie. The zone concept is a form of subsidy/inducement for commerce, in which there are no duties collected on goods until they are shipped out as finished products. A vote AGAINST would prevent the bond issue. There has been little opposition to this proposal, perhaps because it is the least understood and least important bond-issue question on the ballot.
Question D -- Police Station: To modernize the 17-year-old Oxon Hill police station, a bond issue of $300,000 is requested. FOR.
Question E -- Vehicle Maintenance Facility: This would authorize $3 million in bonds to consolidate maintenance of all county vehicles, including school buses, under one roof. FOR.
Question F -- Parking Facilities: Approval would permit a $1-million bond issue for two fringe lots and an Upper Marlboro facility. FOR. PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENTS
Question g: This removes a taxing-authority pledge that backed county bonds before TRIM became law and made it inaccurate, and is merely a language change to conform. FOR.
Question H: This is a housekeeping measure clarifying the procedure by which a newspaper is designated as a paper of record. FOR.
Question I: This important proposal would authorize the creation of three new deputy chief of police positions and exempt them from the merit promotion system. The measure is intended to assist the advancement of minorities into the higher ranks of the police department -- a significant and necessary improvement. FOR.
Question J: This ill-conceived proposal would require the county executive to hold two public hearings on the annual budget before sending it to the county council, which holds its own hearings anyway. The council should have authority to add items to the county executive's budget, but this is not the way to go about it. AGAINST.
Questions K, L and M: If all three of these proposals are rejected, which they should be, the county council is scheduled under the current charter to be composed of six at-large members and five elected from specific districts in the county. Former council member Francis B. Francois, one of the most respected experts on county and regional government, is among those who are strongly urging the defeat of K, L and M as the best approach. Shrinking the council to 9 members, either all from districts or a 5-at-large, 4-from-districts combination, invites too much parochialism. The third proposal -- which (and here's another reason to vote AGAINST on all three) would prevail if conflicting proposals win approval -- would continue the current interim hybrid formula of 11 members voted on by the whole but with five living in different districts. AGAINST ALL THREE.
Question N: This petitioned proposal would require binding arbitration of any disputes between the county and its uniformed firefighters and police officers if the disputes are not resolved by March 1 of the year when a collective bargaining agreement expires (unless both sides agree to an extension). Those supporting the measure say the proposal would eliminate strike situations; the county executive, who is opposing the measure, notes correctly that the resort to outside arbitrators results in costly resolutions of disputes. AGAINST.