In his latest attack on the record of Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer, challenger Neal Potter suggested yesterday that Kramer might propose further increases in the property tax if he is reelected, and said that a tax on new development is a better choice.
Potter, speaking at a news conference on the county's fiscal health, said that "alternative sources of revenue," including a proposed tax on commuter parking spaces and a local tax on gasoline, will be needed to ease Montgomery through the economic slowdown that is predicted for the months ahead.
Kramer "has not faced the true dimensions of the financial crisis," said Potter, a 20-year County Council veteran who is promoting himself as a slow-growth candidate.
But Kramer countered yesterday that he has no plans to raise taxes, repeating that his business experience and successful record as executive prove that he is the more qualified candidate to lead the county through sluggish times. "I don't know where Mr. Potter picked that up," Kramer said about the prediction of higher taxes. "That's something coming from his imagination."
Kramer said that a development tax, which was proposed two years ago by Potter and two other council members, would result only in higher housing costs. "We are concerned about driving up artificially the cost of housing," Kramer said. "The development community has said time and time again, 'We will pass it on to the consumer.' "
Predicting that a development tax could produce $25 million a year, Potter said that Kramer's "strong support for more rapid, dense development and his opposition to an adequate tax on it" will force cuts in services or an increase in property taxes. Potter has tried repeatedly to link Kramer's position on development and the generosity of developers to his campaign.
Potter has already suggested several measures that he said would eliminate waste in county government, including disbanding Kramer's million-dollar-a-year personal planning staff because of duplication with the county planning department, and cutting in half the $2 million budget of "the now counterproductive" Office of Economic Development.
"You don't retain business," Potter said, "by buying CEOs breakfasts and lunches with taxpayer money . . . . In that respect, the Office of Economic Development is now doing more harm than good."