From Harford County Councilman Aaron Penman:
The purpose of our branches of government is to balance power, which includes the budgetary responsibilities, between the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch. Much to our County’s detriment, County Executive Bob Cassilly has trouble understanding that he is not the King of Harford County. Once again, I am disappointed with the theatrics and misinformation presented by the County Executive concerning the Hotel Tax Bill 23-034. King Cassilly’s intent is to bully the County Council and mislead our community members simply to establish more power and control.
Evidence has shown that Bob Cassilly will go to any length for selfish reasons and because of it, Harford County has suffered. This relentless power grab and overreach by Cassilly has caused division and conflict between his Administration and the County Council, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office, Harford County Public Schools, and Harford County Library, to name of few. At some point, citizens must ask, “is the problem nearly every Harford County entity or Bob Cassilly?”
Bill 23-034 allows pre-existing Hotel Tax dollars to be utilized for tourism, as it was intended, based on a percentage basis. Cassilly is now using negative commentary to attack the Maryland General Assembly and improper spending policies, but what he is claiming is simply not true. This percentage base strategy, or “spending mandate” as referenced by King Cassilly, has already been in place for Harford County. The fact is a percentage of tourism dollars has been dedicated to Harford County municipalities for many years. Bill 23-034 now allows the Harford County Tourism interests across the entire County to also share with a percentage of dedicated funding. This is needed so that tourism can thrive and positively impact our local economy.
In addition, Bill 23-034 provides valuable tourism dollars to the communities that are affected most by the visitation demand.
These tourism dollars will be spread fairly across Harford County to ensure all areas of the County are getting the attention they deserve. Without Bill 23-034, Cassilly can continue to ignore important communities in Harford County, such as Edgewood and Joppa.
The real reason Cassilly opposed and vetoed Bill 23-034 is because he intended to expand our local government by taking control of Harford County’s local premier destination organization, Visit Harford. The Cassilly Administration has already expanded the size of the local government with more than 208 new positions, while simultaneously claiming we do not need a bigger government! Tourism strategies should be kept in the hands of tourism experts, such as Visit Harford. With a dedicated funding source, Visit Harford can recruit tourism events years in advance, which is a competitive strategy utilized by many other jurisdictions.
We all know the government has difficulty with the most basic tasks, which was evident from the Cassilly Administration’s failure and incompetence planning the Harford County Balloon Festival, which ended up having to move to Pennsylvania.
Therefore, I ask that Harford County support the Harford County Council overriding the Bob Cassilly veto of Bill 23-034. Once this is all behind us, I do hope that Bob Cassilly establishes a better working relationship with Harford County stakeholders. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”