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The Tentacle


February 5, 2004

Stop The Blame Game!

David 'Kip' Koontz

There is a call for a whopping $.095 tax increase to fund one road. The city wants to build a road on land the county owns. The city has attempted to buy the same property twice.

And the city paid $8 million for land for the construction of Monocacy Boulevard before it is known if the land can be built on for environmental reasons.

These are a few of the craziest things that are going on in City Hall.

What else donít we know?

Recently a bomb was dropped when Herzonner Jennifer Dougherty announced that - in order to complete Monocacy Boulevard - city residents may be assessed a 9.5 cent tax increase to cover the costs.

This, not surprisingly, raised howls of protests from city residents, who rightfully claim that since there are many private individuals and corporations that will benefit from the completion of the road, the primary responsibility for funding should belong to them.

Since the Monocacy Boulevard project was undertaken, we have had a change in administration.

At least one former mayor and some of his allies could - potentially - benefit directly from the construction of the road and the plans were based on verbal agreements and winks that bound them together to get the project completed.

These winks and verbal agreements seem to have gone by-the-by with the new administration, which is struggling to put this together as these same potential benefactors do not seem to be so ready to voluntarily come forward to pay their fair share.

Hence, Herzonner Dougherty sounded the alarm bells and shook many people from their complacency to get out and complain about such a hefty hike in taxes.

But is that what is going on? It depends to whom you listen.

Some aldermen claim that this was simply an attempt to make people aware of what could happen in a worse case scenario. Yet, at the same time, it seems as if the mayor has called for a 9.5 cent tax increase, or maybe it was some aldermen. Others claim it was never discussed.

It seems that communication inside City Hall does not seem to have started 2004 any better than it ended 2003.

Alternate plans to come up with the funds are being reviewed, such as assessments on the square footage of all buildings constructed; or Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) which would take taxes from development of properties on Monocacy Boulevard; or increasing the size of the special tax assessment area to include more buildings.

One has to wonder whether the city will - in turn - offer new businesses property tax incentives in order to lure them to the city, which will offset any or all of the above anyway?

Be that as it may, does anyone wonder why the improvements of Monocacy Boulevard on the Gas House Pike side are going to be completed before the road is actually connected from Hughes Ford Road over to Gas House Pike?

Could it be that if the road actually got you from one point to another instead of kind of dead-ending on each end, people may be more inclined to support the completion of it?

And why did the city spend $8 million without doing environmental impact studies to see if the land can be built on to begin with?

This project from day one seems to have been prepared on a wing and a prayer, instead of facts and preparation.

There is also no way to forget that part of where Monocacy Boulevard is slated to run, seems to be on county, not city property.

There are those who say that the paperwork to complete the transfer of the land to the city was never signed off on by the appropriate parties of the last administration, hence leaving us with this situation today.

So, can we say that basically the plan for Monocacy Boulevard was to build any way possible, no matter the impact to the environment, the cost or methodology of funding it, and whether there may be questionable legalities to land ownership?

Former Hizzoner Jim Grimes is seemingly blaming the miscommunication on the fact that Herzonner Dougherty dismissed any and all members of his administration, hence breaking any continuity of communication.

It is doubtful that if all the communication was written on a cocktail napkin, there wasnít a whole heck of a lot of communication to be passed on.

This mayor and this board of aldermen should be outraged that they would be put in the position of having to pick up the proverbial pieces of completing this project, instead of continuing to play the blame game on each other, when it very well seems to be ghosts of the past that are causing the problems.

It would be nice, however, to get an offer from the city to buy a property they already purchased from you, as happened on Rosemont Avenue.

Have other people been double paid for properties purchased twice and if so, who is going to look into it?

Someone should, because the city needs every cent it can get to pay for Monocacy Boulevard, if it needs to be funded at all.



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