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February 11, 2004

When Is Enough, Enough?

Alan Imhoff

The City of Frederick is experiencing hard times financially, according to some in the administration. In what seems to be a weekly litany, it might cost taxpayers 9.5 cents more for this, or several cents more for that and the State is not being cooperative with money it doesn't have, or the federal government is cutting back on this special program.

It always amazes me how governments lay out the worst possible scenario, then take a reading on how those who are paying attention howl and scream, then retract some of their doom and gloom while miraculously seeming to find just enough new funds that were not originally forecast.

Budgets are balanced and we only had to pay a few cents more, per hundred, per year (and every year thereafter!) just a slight increase, not that awful 9.5 cents.

What do we get for all those "few little cents?" We get to retain all those highly paid directors we do not want to lose to other jurisdictions. We get maybe another staffer or two to shuffle more paper that seems to get lost in the shuffle or maybe just misplaced and almost certainly not read by anyone in authority.

So, because this paper is "mis-filed" somewhere and all the staffers are too busy to do their jobs, government hire consultants, often with open ended contracts, to find the paper that was lost, aggregate it, re-arrange it and then publish it so we finally have what we already knew, but just didn't know where it was.

Maybe a little far-fetched, but is it?

Those of us living in The City of Frederick are beginning to feel like the little brother (or maybe sister) of our big brother to the east. Bal-mer, that's in Merhleland. For those of you who did not have the distinct honor as I of growing up in the thriving metropolis of 900,000 in the 1950's and 60's, you will get use to the pronunciation - Hon!

As the second most taxed jurisdiction behind Bal-tee-more (another variation of Bal-mer), The City of Frederick aspires to emulate it's relative to the east. Property assessments that no longer creep up, they sort of just pole vault to higher levels, yet our government sings the "Oh, woe is me!" song once again. Is it another "just 3 cents?" Or will it be more?

Remember we have to, that's have to, pay to keep all those folks earning those high salaries here. And, since many are overburdened managing all the consultant studies, we have to hire another assistant consultant overseer.

Could it be, however, that the result of one year of no new construction maybe, just maybe, had a little influence on cash flow? Government seemed to grow at the same pace, as when we were putting up 600 houses a year or more, yet we did not even come close.

Maybe we were just getting our bureaucracy up to the same levels of service as our big brother to the east. Just look where they are today compared to 40 years ago.

Lest we forget, it is not just The City of Frederick that wants "just a few cents more," there are the needs of the fire district we are in, oh yeah, don't forget those little fees for ambulance service, who knows what the State will tack on to flush our toilets and we cannot forget that $21 million to take our teachers up another rung on the comparative ladder.

At what point do we as taxpayers say, "Enough is enough!" How do we make those we elected to office make sense out of all those little "cents?"

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