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From the Desk of
County Commissioner Young

(June, 2010) I am thankful for the opportunity to reach out to the readers of this publication.

When former Commissioner Charles Jenkins was appointed to fill the vacancy of former Delegate Rick Weldon, I saw an opportunity to get involved by once again representing the tax payers. My interest and desire was not that of a position for pro-growth or anti-growth, pro-waste-to-energy or anti-incinerator or any single issue, it was a frustration about how the government functions and spends our tax dollars.

We see what is happening on the Federal level; how Frederick County was short-changed on State Highway User Revenues by the state (taxes paid in Frederick County, paid to the State and supposed to be returned to Frederick County for road maintenance). So I wanted to be part of the process on how your county tax dollars are spent. Budget management will be the most critical issue that we face together.

During the next couple of years the role of County government must be redefined. We (government) must live within our means and no longer attempt to be everything to everyone. When times were good and we saw a rise in assessments and revenues for income tax were flush, the money was spent, programs expanded and government grew. Now, Frederick County has seen major cuts in State funding, income tax revenue is way down and property tax revenue, although still up slightly, is projected to be down in the future as the new property assessments come in.

So, what do we do? Do we live within our means and prioritize what are deemed essential services and fund them first or do we just make general flat reductions across the board? This is the first year of several very challenging budget cycles. This year is just the beginning. Next year will prove to be a very daunting task for the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), balancing the budget with a projected $34 million deficit and in FY 2013 a $43 million deficit is projected.

This year's operating budget was balanced using $23 million of one-time, non-recurring revenue. That is a fancy way of saying the budget was balanced by taking revenue meant for other services or projects that will not be generated in the future to pay for these expenses. That to me is not a balanced budget and is a major issue that the next BOCC will have to face. Every citizen and taxpayer has to balance their household budgets. We budget our mortgage/rent, electricity, food and other necessities. We do this with revenue that we expect to be there every month, not with a windfall that won't be there when the bills come due next month.

You cannot have the premiere cable package if you cannot pay your electricity bill. Every county taxpayer has expectations that they will receive some basic services when they pay their county taxes. In my opinion, they are education, police protection, fire and rescue services, roads maintenance, sewer services, having their water supply protected, trash disposal and those services related to the items on this list.

There is also an expectation of some basic level of citizen and social services, for those who cannot help themselves because of a mental or physical handicap, and some services that give opportunities for those who want to help themselves, with an expectation of strict accountability. In my opinion, with what the future holds, we will have three options: Focusing on the priority/essential services and doing them right and cutting the rest; keep reducing across-the-board which eliminates programs and does not provide the essential services to the extent we should; or a combination of these with a tax increase.

Even after reducing the approved budgeted positions, they are still up over a four-year period by 2.4%. Government should be a reflection of the community that it represents. We must live within our means and leave as much money as possible in the taxpayers' pockets as you are trying to rebound from the economy. During these times we need tough leaders to make tough decisions. Unpopular decisions will have to be made. Compassion should work both ways: Compassion for the issues at hand, but also compassion for the taxpayers. This is where the government's money comes from. The taxpayer can only be asked to do so much as they have their own financial responsibilities.

Non-profit and religious organizations will be called upon to do more for those worthwhile, meritorious specialty services that are requested by the public. This should not be the role of the government. I practice what I preach by volunteering and donating to organizations.

Personal accountability and responsibility is the only way to get this county turned around. This should start at the local level. These economic/financial times are often defined as being the worst since the Great Depression. The Great Depression produced the Greatest Generation which the majority of us have learned about in history books. The question we should ask is, "What will the lessons be that we will learn?" These should be looked at as exciting times as we could set the tone for future generations if we choose and make our decisions wisely.

Thank you again and I want to hear from you on this topic. Please call me at 301-600-2336 or e-mail me at

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