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The Tentacle


October 30, 2014

Democratic Executive Candidate Makes Her Case

Guest Columnist

Jan Gardner

 

I am running for Frederick county executive to fight for the things we love and value in our community. I want Frederick County to be the best place to live, work, and raise a family.

 

I am running to restore trust in government, manage growth responsibly, ensure world-class schools, and create a vibrant economy. For me, this race is personal. I have invested 12 years serving Frederick County. I love Frederick County. Frederick County is my home.

 

Over the past four years, I have watched in dismay as the current commissioners have made one harmful decision after another. The keys to Winchester Hall have been turned over to the developers and over $160 million of property taxes have been given away to subsidize residential housing. This is a terrible betrayal of the taxpayer. These are our tax dollars and they should be invested in public education, public safety, road maintenance, and other core county services.

 

In my view, the current commissioners have made a series of bad decisions. They gutted ethics laws and eliminated the penalties for serious ethics violations. They raised property taxes by 5% to 15% on the residents of Thurmont, Walkersville, Lewistown, Middletown, Brunswick, Mt. Airy, and Sabillasville when the fire tax was merged into the property tax rate. They privatized county services at a higher cost. Worst of all, they funded our schools at the bare minimum required by law while giving away millions in future tax dollars to out-of-county residential developers.

 

Privatization has been a disaster. Many hard-working and dedicated county employees have been let go and replaced with contract employees often at a higher cost. While Blaine Young brags about less government based on fewer employees, he fails to tell you that the budget has grown larger and set new records for spending each and every year of his administration. With these decisions, Mr. Young has brought us more expensive government and is leaving the county with a projected $38 million structural deficit. I am truly saddened by the mistreatment and disrespect toward many loyal county employees.

 

Worse yet, the Young Board of County Commissioners has approved over 10,000 new houses without a plan for adequate schools and roads. The developer of the Jefferson Tech Park has been let out of a contract to build an $8 million addition to Crestwood Middle School in exchange for less than $500,000 in school mitigation fees. This is a bad deal for taxpayers.

 

Over 200 fees and taxes, paid almost exclusively by the development community, have been cut. The majority of these fees have been user fees for decades with the users paying for the service they are using. Now, all the taxpayers are paying to subsidize permitting and inspection for new development. Laws that were in place to time residential growth with needed schools and roads have been gutted. Developer contributions to regional transportation improvements have been cut to zero. These decisions harm Frederick County, will result in overcrowded schools and congested roads, and will undermine our budgets for decades.

 

We have excellent public schools, but our education system is at risk due to multiple years of funding at the bare minimum required by law. Mr. Young has pledged not “one dime above” state mandated minimums (Gazette, 3/22/2012) while diverting our tax money to out-of-state developers. He even told our Board of Education if they wanted more money they should but a Power Ball ticket. (Gazette, 1/24/2013)

 

The lease/sale of Citizens and Montevue has broken our promise to our seniors and violated the covenants in the deed established by the Brunner family almost 200 years ago. Frederick County taxpayers are spending $7.3 million in this fiscal year to pay Aurora Holding to manage and operate these facilities when the county’s cost to operate them in-house was $2.9 million. We taxpayers are spending $4.4 million more to have a private company operate these facilities and they are no longer accepting any indigent elderly patients. At one time, Montevue served five World War II veterans who had outlived their money. As a community, we were proud to take care of our own. This legacy should be protected, not ended.

 

I am proud of my accomplishments as a county commissioner. Building a record number of new schools and reducing overcrowding from over 100% system-wide to below 90% is a key accomplishment. I am proud to have managed the budget responsibly and controlled spending to less than ½ of 1% over the four years I served as president of the Board of County Commissioners.

 

We did not raise taxes and we earned the first AAA bond rating for Frederick County. I am also proud to have successfully introduced single stream recycling, added to our quality of life with new libraries and parks, added a new agricultural preservation program that permanently preserved over 15,000 acres of farmland, and introduced a prescription discount card at no cost to the county.

 

I am running against an opponent with an unprecedented amount of money, almost a million dollars, with a significant portion coming from special interest groups. My opponent’s entire campaign is an untruthful smear campaign against me. Virtually everything he says about me is untrue, and no one should believe any of it. He is bullying me just as he has bullied the citizens of Frederick County.

 

I will stand firm in my conviction to restore honest and good government in Frederick County. I ask you to stand with me. I respectfully ask for your vote for county executive on November 4th.

 

jan@jangardner.org

 



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