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Hagerstown Council candidates talk about spending

May 09, 2009

Editor's note: The following is the last of five questions that candidates for Hagerstown City Council were asked to answer, followed by their responses. Candidates were asked to keep their responses to 150 words. Responses were edited for length and to fix typos or errors. Otherwise, they appear as they were received from the candidates. Their answers to the final question are on page A3 of today's Herald-Mail.

This week's question is: Do you think steps should be taken to determine whether there is wasteful spending within the city government? If so, how would you go about finding the waste?



R. Noel Brady, 68

Democrat

40 E. Antietam St.

I think the new City Council should look at some of the frivolous spending that has taken place and put an end to it. With the country facing a recession, businesses closing, people losing their jobs and their homes, the city will be losing a great deal of tax money needed to run the city. If I'm elected to the City Council, I will look for ways to accomplish the projects that need to be done with less money and within the city's budget, make sure the city is financially responsible and keep spending in check. Failure to do these things will be a catastrophe.

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William M. Breichner, 77

Democrat

1117 Oak Hill Ave.

To determine if wasteful spending exists in the city's budget, it will be necessary to meet with each department, have the department head explain their responsibilities and, at the same time, ask them to explain their budget items line item by line item. I believe this process will serve the desired objectives of, 1) allowing the members of the elected body to develop a better understanding of the departments' responsibilities and the city's operations and 2) looking for cost savings and unnecessary services. This may be a task that the department personnel will not look forward to, but it will make their responsibilities easier by having better-informed elected officials and, in the long run, save the city money.

Martin E. Brubaker, 62

Democrat, Incumbent

183 Brynwood St.

I believe the next council should allocate more time for setting budget goals and the subsequent process of reviewing the annual budget as well as out-year forecasts. Consideration should be given to assigning budget areas to individual members who would work with the applicable department heads and report to the whole council. The mayor should be included in this process. I think this more detailed review would not only help uncover "wasteful spending," it would help the council understand issues and determine priorities among competing valid proposals, a more frequent aspect of the budget exercise. True wasteful spending should be stamped out immediately and managers held accountable. However, definitions are important. Too often, wasteful is a term applied to a program/project that is simply not someone's personal preference. The council should budget for community priorities within affordable financial limits and then monitor implementation for efficiency and effectiveness.

David A. Lidz, 43

Democrat

716 Summit Ave.

Waste is present in every organization. There is no reason to believe that city government has somehow solved that problem. It is an issue about which we must remain forever vigilant; we better ourselves as individuals and as institutions by always striving to do better, to work smarter. The council should work from a "zero-growth" budgetary approach as a matter of general policy. Beginning at zero growth requires each department to justify on a line-item basis its expenditures from that point forward. This would allow the council to add or subtract to the city's existing budget, to better plan for the future, and to find ways to cut property taxes. I also firmly believe that one of Hagerstown's greatest assets is its excellent provision of city services. This is a legacy that I will absolutely support. I will work cooperatively with city managers and employees to identify waste and redundancy.

Lewis C. Metzner, 56

Democrat, Incumbent

322 E. Irvin Ave.

It is always the duty of elected officials to spend taxpayers' money responsibly. The budget of the city by law must be balanced. The most effective way to control wasteful spending is through the budget process. The city's budget and finances are and should continue to be transparent and available to our citizens.

Patrick N. Crist, 46

Republican

906 Maryland Ave.

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