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Letters to the Editor

October 10, 2009

Citizens' input apparently not wanted in redistricting decision



To the editor:

The purpose of this letter is to express my strong opposition to countywide redistricting in Washington County Public Schools and to the building of Eastern Primary School.

First, the Facilities and Enrollment Advisory Committee (FEAC) process, as outlined in the PowerPoint presentation at the three public forums, is flawed. (A lot of) meetings and "extensive research and analysis" were the first step? A draft proposal is step two? Soliciting public input is step three?

The message was clear in the timing and format of the forums - FEAC didn't want public feedback. FEAC said they wanted community feedback, yet citizens each were given three minutes to speak and there was no dialogue allowed between FEAC and the public. The plan was already formulated without any suggestions or input from Washington County parents and citizens.

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Secondly, the Board of Education apparently needs to be reminded of its master plan. The Board of Education's Master Plan - District Goal III, Objective Five reads: Customer and stakeholder involvement and satisfaction to achieve a high level of staff, parent, family, community and business, and higher education involvement and satisfaction; and to cultivate commitment from Washington County citizens.

Please tell me where the citizen involvement was in this process?

Lastly, the FEAC proposal to move more than 1,500 children from their community schools solves nothing. The overcrowding issues will not be solved in South County. Rockland Woods Elementary, once the Westfields is complete, will be over capacity. Moving children around to fill a new school (Eastern Primary) in the wrong location is poor planning. Put the facilities where they are needed (like South County), or make changes to existing ones. Reserve capacity at schools like Rockland Woods. It doesn't make sense to build a school that costs $25 million and then bus children from all over the county to fill it.

One citizen at the forum held at Rockland Woods Elementary said it best, "Your, 'build it and they will come' ideas are getting old." This is poor planning and wasteful spending at its worst. There are many more viable, sensible options that need to be explored other than redistricting and building the wrong schools in the wrong locations.

Unfortunately, the process that has been set up by FEAC and the Board of Education to solve the issues that face Washington County Public Schools has not allowed for the community to have input in the process. Shouldn't we all work together to do what is right for our children and our communities?

Lisa S. Milligan
Smithsburg




Here's a building excise plan that should be enacted



To the editor:

I have observed lately that there have been some discussions by the Washington County Commissioners about the latest version of the building excise tax. There is much about the very existence of the building excise tax that troubles me and this tax should clearly be repealed for reasons too extensive to address here.

Since it is my belief that the Commissioners are not open to all of the logical arguments against this tax and since I believe that for the near term we are doomed to live with its negative economic impact on our community, I do not choose to make my comprehensive case against this tax at this time. I do, however, want to point out what I consider to be a grave injustice to existing county residents that is done by this tax.

It is my belief that when a longtime resident of Washington County chooses to either buy or build within Washington County that they should be exempt from the payment of any excise tax. This tax was, after all, designed to pay for new facilities and services that the county was going to have to provide for new residents. When someone who has lived in Washington County for many years desires to move a few miles within the county, they are not creating a need for any more services than they are already getting from the county. Therefore, what is the justification for this tax?

It is my proposal that if a current county resident purchases a home from a developer that the developer is required to reduce the selling price of the home by the amount of the excise tax and that the county in turn refund to that developer the amount of the tax paid on any home built for an existing county resident. Additionally if a county resident chooses to build their own home and apply for their own building permit, I would propose that the county waives the excise tax on their project.

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