Posted by David Keelan on Sunday, August 26, 2007
County Councilman Greg Fox had some words of wisdom to share with Ken Ulman in the Baltimore Sun. Among Greg’s points:
- The 6 percent pay raise guaranteed for four years for county firefighters
- Teachers and police 5 percent raises for two years
- Hiring large numbers of new employees.
- The county’s general fund, or locally funded budget, went from $734 million last fiscal year to $812.5 million for the fiscal year that began July 1.
“We knew that the state was looking at us as being part of the solution, and we shouldn’t have been spending and spending as if we weren’t going to be part of it,” Fox said.
Fox and other members cautioned the council during budget talks in May that the county needed to limit new spending given impending state cuts, federal accounting changes requiring an escalating annual payment for future retirees’ health benefits and the looming need for a new county government and courthouse complex.
We are going to now see the mettle that Ken Ulman is made of and I hope for Howard County’s sake we are not disappointed. Ulman expects:
But Ulman said the county is prepared for “reasonable numbers,” such as a state cut of $5 million to $8 million.
Let us hope he is right because the County can absorb that through property tax assesments. It won’t be easy but we alway exceed projected income in that area. But if it is $40M then Ken has a problem – and we all share in it. What will he do? Raise property taxes is my guess. Although he says he would not do it lightly.
Ken Ulman the Conservative
Then the best quote of the article
“We think we budgeted conservatively for the outlook,” he said. “If we don’t pay our police and firefighters a competitive wage, we lose them.”
Loose them to where? Baltimore City?
Posted in Fox, Howard County, Ulman | 18 Comments »
Posted by Ed C on Saturday, March 31, 2007
The Examiner highlights a proposal by Greg Fox (R-District 5) in Official aims to make meeting details more accessible to county residents.
Fox’s proposed measure would make the signs smaller, color-coded and include a large code in the top left corner, identifying the project. Residents can enter that code into the county’s Web site to find out information on the meeting and track the development plans, he said.
This seems like a simple and welcome change to make information easier to get. I wonder if it would be feasible to add a requirement to have information sheets available at the sign – similar to the “take one” mailboxes that Realtors currently use.
Making the case number prominently displayed on the signs and an obvious way to enter that information into the County’s web site is one thing, but being able to take a sheet with the same information and listing the URL for additional information could also be useful.
Posted in County Council, Ed C, Fox, Howard County | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Jim Walsh on Wednesday, December 13, 2006
For those not familiar with the term, in Annapolis a bill specifically aimed at one particular person is sometimes called a red-headed Eskimo bill, because the details in the legislation eliminate all but one person from its application.
Earlier this year, with very little publicity, section 131 of the Howard County zoning regulations, dealing with conditional uses in B-1 and B-2 (commercial) zones, was amended to allow age-restricted adult housing outside the Planned Service Area (i.e., outside the Eastern area served by water and sewer lines) if that development adjoins, or is within 200 yards of, a community shopping center with a food store greater than 15,000 square feet.
Now, you might be scratching your head wondering (1) what a 15,000 square foot food store has to do with age-restricted adult housing, and (2) where in Western Howard County is there such a property. I still haven’t figured out the answer to question (1) myself, but surprise, surprise, surprise, it turns out that there’s a 5.85 acre site just east of the Lisbon Shopping Center. And that shopping center just happens to contain a 15,000+ square foot Food Lion, which I believe is the only food store of such size in Western Howard County. And, in a further amazing coincidence, that property just happens to be owned by Democrat developer Don Reuwer and real estate attorney Dick Talkin.
Even though there’s no water or sewer lines in the area, the developers believe that this would be an appropriate site for five four-plex age-restricted housing units. For those of you who are not good at math, that works out to 20 housing units on a site that normally would be allowed less than 2 homes. Adding to area residents’ concern is that the same partnership owns a separate 7 acre tract just north of the shopping center.
The Lisbon-Woodbine area already has problems with well water quality, the legacy of a leaky underground gasoline tank from a number of years back. A nearby restaurant must have water delivered rather than cook with or serve water from its own well. A similar Reuwer development of age-restricted townhomes at Cattail Creek has been a disaster, with septic tanks that the developer admits must be pumped out three times daily. There are, of course, no fire hydrants in the area. The Lisbon Volunteer Fire Dept. is also concerned about the anticipated extra burden from added emergency medical calls.
I live about 4 miles away from the site and will not be affected significantly by this development, so I don’t really have any dog in this fight. But several of our friends live very close, and even next, to the site. The developers held a second pre-submission community meeting last night (Tues., 12/12/06) in Lisbon. We thank County Councilman Greg Fox for attending that meeting. Now we’re not a bunch of rabid NIMBY villagers with torches and pitchforks, and it could well be that this 20-unit development is the best use for the site, but we are concerned about the water quality in the area and interested in how the developers plan to address those concerns.
Posted in County Council, Fox, Howard County, Jim Walsh, Zoning | 6 Comments »
Posted by David Keelan on Monday, December 4, 2006
The Baltimore Sun says that “Ball seems likely choice as council chairman“.
They are probably right. However, I think Courtney Watson would make an excellent Chairman too. If she were to pursue the position I think she could persuade Mary Kay Sigitay to support her bid. That would leave the tie breaking vote to Greg Fox.
As the lone Republican Greg would find himself in a very enviable position.
My view of the Council is that we have three voting blocks. Ball and Terresa, Watson and Sigitay, and Fox. I think with the democrats split along those lines Greg Fox will have more influence than most people originally thought.
Despite the disparaging remarks directed at Greg during the primary – he has the skills to negotiate the halls of County Council.
Updated:I think Calvin Ball will be elected Chairman. Not much doubt in my mind about that. I hope he distinguishes himself in the role. With Guy Guzzone off to the House of Delegates Calvin Ball might actually be able to act as his own person rather than suffer under the undue influence of Mssrs. Guzzone and Ulman.
Since Mr. Ulman will now be occupying a suite of offices on the 3rd floor Mr. Ball might find it difficult to avoid Mr. Ulman’s patronizing. I can hear it now:
“Now, now Calvin. After all I am the County Executive and have 4, count them 4, years of Council experience. Besides Calvin, now I have hired my best friend to make up for my lack of executive and management experience so I will still have plenty of time to
direct err help you. What is that Calvin? Never mind how much I am paying him. Remember it costs a lot of money to make me look good and my opponents look bad. Now just get the bill passed in the new council that authorizes his position. What Calvin! Don’t worry how much money it will cost Calvin! This is a quality of life issue for God’s sake. No Calvin, not MY quality of life! Do you want to be Chairman or not?”
If Calvin Ball can not demonstrate his independence and distinguish himself then I don’t think he will be able to pull what Guy Guzzone did – three years as Chairman. If the other council members (save one) see Calvin Ball continuing to do the bidding of Ken Ulman – he is out after 12 months. That would be the best outcome for Calvin because it moves him out of the limelight for the next three years, and gives him time to repair his image as a lackey so he can win re-election in 2010.
In the end this could be what some people are counting on. Let Calvin continue to exercisebad judgement. ie: continues to propose bad legislation, challenges the recently passed senior tax cut as a surrogate for Ken Ulman, etc. and let him remove himself from relevancy.
The County Council will be sworn in this evening at Centennial High School at 7PM – maybe I will see you there.
Posted in County Council, Fox, Howard County, Watson | 13 Comments »
Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, September 5, 2006
I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. Jim had hinted to a development in the papers earlier and I suspected this might be the case.
As reported in the Baltimore Examiner.
There isn’t much to add to what Dave Wissing said about this development.
If pointing out the obvious (party switching) is dirty politics Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in County Council, Fox, Howard County | 16 Comments »
Posted by David Keelan on Friday, September 1, 2006
Wayne Livesay: 20
Jim Adams: 18
Total votes: 85
View for yourself
Posted in County Council, Fox, Howard County | 10 Comments »
Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Update August 29th: Greg Fox has replied.
August 25th update: Please see Mary Smith’s latest comment on this post.
Update: I hope no one is “offended” that I point out the Wayne Livesay and Greg Fox have not yet replied to the question posted below by Mary Smith. Let me assure you that no “bias” is intended.
Mary Smith, a frequent reader and commentator on this blog, has posed a question for the GOP primary candidates in County Council District Five.
Jim Adams, Greg Fox, Wayne Livesay.
Mary asks: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in County Council, Fox, Howard County, Republicans | 22 Comments »
Posted by David Keelan on Friday, August 25, 2006
As of 6:40 AM August 25th.
Greg Fox leads with 14 votes (50%)
Jim Adams follows with 8 votes (29%)
Wayne Livesay has 6 (21%)
I am not surprised by the results so far. What surprises me is the low number of votes. This site gets over 200 hits a day and we only have 28 votes? With that many visitors this is still a close poll.
We had 130 votes for the District 1 poll and it was only open for about one week. We had 200 votes for the County Exec. race.
Here is a link to the poll. The poll will remain open until August 31st.
Posted in County Council, Fox, Howard County | 1 Comment »
Posted by David Keelan on Friday, August 18, 2006
As the newspapers reported the Howard County Fraternal Order of Police issued their endorsements.
It is just as interesting as who they didn’t endorse as it is who they endorsed.
Not endorsed were:
Former Police Chief, current County Executive, and
carpet bagger er candidate for Senate District 13
Wayne Livesay Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Fox, Howard County | 17 Comments »
Posted by David Keelan on Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Yesterday Chris Merdon and Charlie Feaga proposed a property tax reduction of 25 percent for those 70 or older with incomes of under $75,000 a year. This is great and is a direct result of the HB288 legislation passed by the General Assembly this year.
I agree with Chris Merdon that it is a good way to manage growth in our school system, and it provides a cost savings to the county to enable our seniors to remain in the county.
The Baltimore Examiner quoted Greg Fox, who attended the press conference , “…the council should work with the state delegation to address the needs of those between 65 and 70 years old.”
Wayne Livesay attended too and is quoted in the Baltimore Sun article in reference to the need for this type of legislation citing the experience of his 73 year old mother.
In my last post I suggested the Chris Merdon and Greg Fox should collaborate on developing legislation that would also enable seniors to downsize their homes, move to senior housing in the county, and retain the same benefit. In other words, make it portable. With Charlie in the mix I think Greg, Chris and Charlie could come up with even more meaningful legislation. Portability is an issue that Greg Fox brought up earlier in the year. If it was necessary to work with our State legislators to enable portability (as some have suggested) Greg Fox is the person. Greg Fox has a tremendous relationship with, and the endorsement of, Schrader, Kittleman, and Miller. He is in a great position to advocate on behalf of the county citizens and the next county executive. Greg has commented that HB288 may already provide that flexibility and is already discussing it with Schrader.
By working on this idea and fleshing it out even further than what HB288 envisioned Greg and Chris can provide a real boost to our senior citizens.
I understand that some people might think this is politically motivated or that they were not included in the initial discussions – ‘tis the season. Even if it is politically motivated at least it is meaningful and actually accomplishes something.
Hayduke asked about circuit breaker (Homestead) tax options. Good question. I looked into it. These are opt-in tax breaks that most seniors don’t know about and are not applying for. We should not make our seniors apply for a tax break when the County has the ability to cut their taxes with simple legislation.
Additional options are for seniors to defer tax increases on their homes and pay them when the property is inherited upon their death or when the sell. This requires that the county place a tax lien on the property. That is an idea that many seniors don’t like.
Shane Pendergrass’ website discusses the latest updates to Homestead legislation.
Homestead Act — The House voted to expand the Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit (Circuit Breaker). HB 5 proposes doubling the maximum assessed value of a property exemption from $150K to $300K, and exempting 401K and other retirement income from the net worth limitation. This action would provide a greater benefit to homeowners currently in the program and would draw additional homeowners into the program. The Circuit Breaker was last reviewed in 1989 — since that time, residential assessments have risen at a rate far greater than household income levels. This legislation will help longtime residents of neighborhoods stay in the communities they helped to build. Coupled with the Aging in Place legislation passed last year by the County Council of Howard County, retired citizens on fixed incomes will find it easier to remain in the homes they have lived in for many years
Here is more information on “Circuit Breaker” tax credits. http://www.itepnet.org/pb10cb.pdf
Posted in County Council, County Executive, Fox, Howard County, Merdon, Taxes | Leave a Comment »