Commissioners candidate looks to reduce taxes

July 17, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - If voters give her the opportunity, Washington County Commissioners candidate Carrie Gouff said she hopes to freeze taxes and slow development.

The county can address its infrastructure needs while giving taxpayers a break, she said.

"I've always been a person that if I believe in something, I'll go after it and get it done," said Gouff, who said during an interview Thursday she still is learning about the county's budget and some of the issues.

Gouff, 40, of Hagerstown, is one of 12 Republican candidates who will appear on the Sept. 12 primary ballot. The field includes four incumbents. Twelve Democrats also have filed and will be on the primary ballot.

The general election is Nov. 7.

Gouff, who as president of the Chewsville, Smithsburg, Leitersburg youth league lobbied county officials to lease the gym at the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base, said the commissioners' decision earlier this year to send out $150 tax rebate checks motivated her to run.


"When I got my refund - I got my refund on a Friday and my tax bill on a Saturday, and it went up $600 ... uhh, something's wrong," said Gouff, who criticized the commissioners for spending money to cut checks and mail the refunds.

The burden on taxpayers should be reduced as development brings in more revenue to the county, Gouff said. Senior citizens also should get breaks, she said.

"My concern is senior citizens have lived in the county, and when they retire, they shouldn't have to pay that full amount. They aren't using that educational part, and a lot of them aren't even on the road so much," she said.

According to Gouff, who works for her husband's construction business, the county should work with developers to pay for infrastructure needs. Out-of-town developers seeking to build large numbers of homes without contributing to the area should not get the go-ahead, she said.

The housing market is already "flooded," she said.

"When you talk to some of these people, they're selling because they can't afford the taxes on it," she said.

Residents should be encouraged to stay in their homes, and they should not penalized with higher taxes for making improvements, she said.

Gouff said she wants to make the permit process less difficult for people.

She said she wants the county to encourage farmers to keep their land, but she said she does not know how to do that.

"That's where I'm kind of open. We need to hear from them," she said.

Gouff said she plans to devote her full attention to the position of County Commissioner if she is elected.

A mother of five children, ages 11 to 21, Gouff said the county needs to rein in the taxpayers' burden.

"If we don't fight to keep things within reason, they're not going to stay around here, and I think Washington County's a great place to stay - as long as it's feasible," she said.

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