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Letters to the Editor 2/24

February 23, 2001

Letters to the Editor 2/24



I'm still opposed to tax increases



To the editor:

I just finished reading one of the columns written by Bob Maginnis. In this episode Sen. Alex Mooney and I are regarded as "clueless compatriots" because we both oppose any expansion of taxes. It is unfortunate that instead of reasonably discussing the issues, Mr. Maginnis resorts to petty name calling.

It amazes me that in a time when the federal government is going to lower taxes, the state government is not going to raise any taxes that I am aware of, and even our neighboring Frederick City is going to lower taxes, that our Washington County administration feels that we simply cannot go for a year without raising taxes.

I welcome all who read this to visit mdtaxes.org, a Web site that lists the 29 Members of the Maryland General Assembly who signed a pledge not to raise taxes. You know, several of these fine "clueless compatriots" are Democrats. I suppose Maginnis will have no problem telling Del. John Wood, Chairman of the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee, that he is one of the "clueless compatriots." I think I'll show Chairman Wood just what Washington County columnists think of "no new taxes" legislators and then ask him to help send us more money for school construction.

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You see, by calling anti-tax Annapolis leaders childish names, Mr. Maginnis proposes a new and interesting strategy for garnishing more school construction dollars for Washington County. Although I must admit I think my strategy is better. I want to wait until the education professionals on the Thorton Commission finish their work. Dr. Yale Stenzler, Executive Director of the Interagency Committee on School Construction, tells me that when the Commission revamps the APEX formula, which is used to allocate school operating funds, it will likely have a positive impact on school construction dollars as well. But alas, Mr. Maginnis would probably call Dr. Stenzler and Dr. Thorton "clueless compatriots" also. If Maginnis had his way, the citizens of Washington County would likely have their bank accounts raided by any number of new or increased taxes.

In voting against all new and expanded taxes, I am simply fulfilling my promises and doing exactly what my constituents want me to do, whether Maginnis likes it or not.

Del. Joe Bartlett

Frederick, Md.




Fire funding



To the editor:

To: Tim Rowland

First of all, I do not live in Washington County. I live in Greencastle and have been reading recent articles dealing with fire and EMS funding with great interest, since we face many of the same problems as our Washington County counterparts.

Your article dealing with the rire-rescue study shows you have little or no knowledge of this subject. According to your article one would think that if the commissioner's went to a totally paid system many of the "wish list items" would not be necessary.

As if once a "full-time paid department" was in place, diesel fuel and heat and electricity for the buildings would not be necessary. Once a paid force, with a nationwide union behind them was in place, a training center would not be required to ensure that their people were up-to-date on the basics as well as the latest hazards facing those who enter today's rapidly changing emergency environment.

I would question if you have even thought about what a county-wide "full-time department" would cost?

Assuming there are too many stations in Washington County, as you seem to think, let's say the county only needed 20 stations (a reduction of 25 percent). Then let's put three people on a shift with one for sick days and vacations.

That's 10 per station or 200 people with a starting wage of $31,000 (including benefits, typically figured as 25 percent of base pay). That's $6.2 million per year. Let's not forget that these people need supervision. So let's hire officers to oversee the 200 people for another $50,000. My guess is that's low.

Now if you've ever been to a house fire, in most cases the three closest departments respond. With the above "full-time paid department" a maximum of nine to 12 people would respond, not nearly enough for an incident of this type.

The point I'm making you could double the "full-time" staff talked about here and still not meet the level of staffing you currently have with a volunteer system.

Now let's talk about paying for equipment. Do you think the "full-time paid department" will work bingo, carnivals, sell raffle tickes to earn money to pay for their gear, trucks and buildings?

Do you do that to pay for your desk, chair, computer and office space? I think not. How will the county make up for these lost revenues? Do you think the Gaming Commission will give funding to a county-wide paid service?

And what about the likes of a Halfway Fire Department? According to you, funds to them should decrease because they are well- organized and "run bigger and better gambling operation." You would have the county decrease their funding because they are organized, so that now they can spend more time away from their families to make up the difference.

I question what service organization you belong to and how much time you donate to the community. Try spending a month at a fire station keeping up with an active volunteer.

Maybe then you weill understand, "who pays?"

Timothy K. Myers

Greencastle, Pa.

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