From the Harford Campaign for Liberty:
Dear Friends of Liberty,
I know the freedom fighters of Harford County are not asleep. I also happen to know that you are not a group of passive sheep. How, might you wonder? Since, April 15, 2009, you have come out in the freezing cold, pouring rain to attend massive tea parties and rallies on a variety of issues that threaten your liberty and wallet from the Tax Day TEA Parties to the 9-12 March on Washington to the many protest against Obama Care and on the County Council to reduce the property tax rate and homestead tax cap. You are by no means “Sunshine Patriots.” You are an educated group of people. This, I know because of your regular attendance at the monthly Campaign for Liberty meetings. You understand complex issues of the nation, state, and county.
At times, all of this may seem overwhelming, but your momentum is definitely making a difference. My position is that, collectively, we are still too small a movement in Harford County to effect real change in Washington. With the conservatives outnumbered in Annapolis, that situation doesn’t lend itself in our favor either. Where I do believe with all my heart that we can make a difference is right here at home in Harford County.
For the next two to three months, it is time to prioritize – Harford County front burner; state and country back burner. In fact, I ask that you take ownership and pledge to become experts and activists in the County Budget Process. I know you can do this because you understand complex issues like QE2, debt ceiling, Federal Reserve, and monetizing the debt. If you can understand that, then you can easily understand and grasp the Harford County Budget. Furthermore, many of you have had months of priming on this through your attendance at the Campaign for Liberty meetings.
So, let me present to you the current situation.
Folks, believe it or not, in these tough economic times, agencies in Harford County are proposing more spending even as revenues are shrinking. The Board of Education budget is $24 million more this year than last year. The Harford Community College is $3 million more this year than last year. The Sheriff could identify an increase to staff the new County Detention facility. The County Executive will release his Fiscal Year 2012 budget in April of 2011. From all indications, he will identify additional capital projects that will be paid for with debt.
The Income Tax and Property Tax revenues, the primary sources of funds to support the budget are expected to be at or slightly above last years levels. This is the first year where property assessments will not increase and automatically provide additional revenue. In fact, as a result of declining market conditions, property assessments will decrease, and thus provide less revenue. Income Tax revenue is not expected to rise much, if at all, above last year’s levels in spite of BRAC and the jobs supposedly added. The current structure of taxes and fees will provide only a small increase over last year’s, but not nearly enough to fund the above-requested increases in the budget. Simply stated, the County is taking in the same or slightly more money than it did last year, while requested expenditures are significantly higher.
Furthermore, State and Federal contributions will be less than last year. The State has no money. It will not provide the typical $16 million in highway revenues for the second year, and school funding has also been decreased. Even if the State had money, its formula for distributing funds is inversely proportional to the wealth of the County. That is as the wealth in the County increases, the State contribution decreases. Harford County wealth ranks in the middle and is rising slightly, in order to get more money the County wealth would have to be decreasing. It is unlikely that Harford County will get poorer, or that poorer Counties will get richer. In other words, the spigot has been turned off. The well is running dry.
What is Harford County to do to resolve this situation?
1. Maintain current tax and fee structure. No increase to the property tax rate. Increasing taxes will drive business away. You may hear that because of declining property valued, the Constant yield Rate requires that the County raise the Property Tax Rate to reach funding levels from last year. Remember this, the Constant Yield Rate was never observed when property values were increasing and revenues from the previous year could have been obtained with a lower property tax rate.
2. Reduce expenditures at all levels. Capital projects should be deferred, to reduce new debt. Review and reduce all operational costs, even if it is painful.
3. Step aside and let the private sector take over. Harford County should get out of functions that are not government in nature. Privatize solid waste disposal. Privatize Water and Sewer. Privatize Parks and Recreation. This action will not eliminate the functions, it will transfer them to a private entity, which can operate for a fee, with less funding. Obviously, there are some functions that cannot be performed by private sector employees, and these should be identified. A careful review of functions and positions should be undertaken to determine how much can be privatized to accrue maximum saved.
4. Consolidate like functions across all agencies and form hybrid government/private functions. Candidates for consolidation are equipment maintenance, human resources, information technology, purchasing, and planning.
How can you make a difference? Well, remember all those rallies you attended? I need you to answer the call and go beyond making posters and listening to good speeches. It is time for you to revolutionize Harford County to fiscal responsibility. I realize this is a lot of information to remember, please print it out for your reference and use.
Here is how you can make a difference:
1. Share this e-mail with everyone in your directory who lives or works in Harford County and beyond.
2. Start looking at the budget. Arm yourself with knowledge. Go to this website: http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/Budget/
Research the 2011 budget, and then compare it to the 2012 budget when it is released.
3. Communicate with County Executive. Politely provide your ideas for improving government and its cost directly to the County Executives web site at: http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/Executive/WebLog/
Write to David R. Craig, County Executive
Harford County Government
220 South Main Street
Bel Air, MD 21014
Phone call: 410.638.3350
Communicate with your councilman or woman:
County Council President Boniface, 410-638-3525
District A, Councilman Guthrie 410-638-3521
District B, Councilman Woods 410-638-3520
District C, Council McMahan 410-638-3523
District D, Councilman Shrodes 410-638-3524
District E, Councilman Slutzky 410-638-3522
District F, Councilwoman Lisanti 410-638-3526
Request in-person meetings with council members and the County Executive.
Attend Sessions of the County Council and other public meetings. County Council meetings are held on Tuesdays, at the A.A. Roberty building. The next County Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, 15 February 2011. Check for other meetings at the following web site: http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/Calendar.cfm.
And finally, encourage your friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers to get involved.
A rally and protest signs will not produce the outcomes we are seeking, especially when you and I know of the crisis our country faces and agree on what has to be done. We know the worst is yet to come with the implementation of Obama Care when that starts hitting our pocketbooks on top of the debt, bloated spending, and deficit.
What happens when you chose to do nothing? Status quo rules the day. You lose the opportunity to direct the government along the path that you choose. Government goes its own way and you are left hoping they know what is best. So, it is time to promote yourself from rally to start doing what it takes to defend liberty in your backyard. This is how America was born in tiny little segments known as colonies coming together to fight and survive. We can achieve the same greatness in Harford County. With your vision and efforts. we will succeed.