Letter to the Editor – Regarding Calvert County Tax Increase

June 8, 2016

letter-envelope-clip-artSadly, our county commissioners are not doing the job their positions stipulate. They are not acting in the best interest of Calvert County’s citizens, who elected them in office. Many of their decisions and behaviors draw the suspicion that they act only as agents for the government itself, or that of financiers on Wall Street, who is trying to take advantage of Calvert County’s citizens. What makes it worse, is that these commissioners seem to dishonor the very citizens, the actual producers of wealth, who work, provide, sacrifice, and toil their lives for their families and fund the government through their taxes, but seem only to honor, protect and reward the county government.

They have failed us with a complete lack of leadership by providing only one proposed budget with property tax and income tax increases. They have failed us by not fighting for us, the people, by bringing new, or old, ideas to the table to reduce spending. Such as arguing to reduce the health care subsidy we pay for county employees, which stands currently at 80% of the heath care premium. To also argue to reduce the level of pension contributions and have the employee bear more of their retirement burden, as do those in the private sector.

To put this into focus, as an example, let’s say a county employee has a family of four and the health care plan cost is $1000 per month. The county pays $800 for that employee, the employee pays only $200 while a majority in the private sector would have to budget and pay maybe $600, or up to the entire $1000. Yet there has been no discussion to reduce the current subsidy level.

There are also the non-county agency expenditures. As the name implies these are not government agencies, rather, private organizations. It is proposed, this fiscal year, to give away over $1.1 million to organizations outside of government, such as $352,850 to Annmarie Garden. Solomons Annual Events get $9630. Saint Mary’s College receives $7000 from us. And the ARC of Southern Maryland gets $332,222, just to name a few of the twenty-nine private organizations listed. Yet, no mention of greatly reducing or eliminating these expenditures, laudable as they may said to be.

Regardless of political fault, the private sector working people in this country have seen their wages decrease and living expenses increase, benefits reduced or terminated, or their jobs completely eliminated. Many of these people, in order to survive, must seek out a second, sometimes a third job in order to make ends meet. Calvert County is not immune from these harsh economic realities. Yet our county commissioners seem not to care or are oblivious. Government must grow, seems the rallying cry.

Next fiscal year, the property taxes from Dominion Cove Point LNG will start to be realized. Calvert County is expecting about $25 million in new additional yearly taxes, revenue. So with this fiscal year’s property tax and income tax increases instituted, next fiscal year, with all things being the same, Calvert County will have excess revenue of over $25 million. There is absolutely no logic to have passed a tax increase this fiscal year when there will be more than enough additional tax revenue coming in next fiscal year. In fact, a discussion of reducing the constant yield tax rate next fiscal year could actually be a real possibility because of all that new tax revenue from Dominion Cove Point LNG.

If the job of County Commissioner to too hard for these individuals currently in office, then maybe they should resign their post. It has recently been written that for 22 years, Delegate Tony O’Donnell has been a great “Citizen Legislator”. And true it is. He has accomplished many great things fighting for the citizens in his district and represented them with honor and vigor. But where are Calvert County’s “citizen” commissioners? Where are the individuals that will fight for Calvert County’s citizens? Not in Prince Frederick.

Patrick Flaherty

10 Responses to Letter to the Editor – Regarding Calvert County Tax Increase

  1. Not Sorry on June 8, 2016 at 7:10 am

    Well , considering they just raised your property taxes for the first time since 1987 I think, maybe 97- boo hoo. And as far as jobs- blame that on Wall Street as they go for maximum profits- which is why they are moving to Mexico – and you can thank Bush 1 for signing NAFTA. Here is another tip, if you don’t like it, move. Obviously, the people of Calvert elected them, so you get what you elect. Here is another tip- if you can’t afford to have several kids, don’t have them. If you can’t afford 4 kids on your salary, then who’s fault is that? In other words, live within your means and you wont have financial problems.

    • Alphonso on June 9, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      Bush didn’t sign NAFTA moron Clinton did .

  2. Rufus on June 8, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Comm Hart & Weems must be commended, but what really got to me was the Arrogant pos King Hejl telling Mr. Hart his residents should stay out of his Liquor store so they can pay the king’s taxes!

  3. pat buehler on June 8, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Pat my only comment the County owns Ann Marie Gardens, 30 acres of land and buildings, all improvement’s and the land was given to county as a gift. There has be 10 million in private money to support and make the all improvements to the property, thanks.

  4. JEFFREY DIXON on June 8, 2016 at 11:16 am

    I believe many Calvert citizens are being purposely misled why there is a need for tax increase. It is possible the state has reduced transportation and other funds to the county. Sure, Dominion pays about $15 million in property taxes.
    In 2013, Calvert County’s commissioners voted unanimously to waive about $506 million in county property taxes that Dominion would have owed over 14 years if the project is successfully completed. I truly believe that is the root cause for our new tax increase. I’m embarrassed that our county doesn’t have a fully funded fire department, but those commissioners made a way to help Dominion. I happen to be living in the High Consequence Area near Dominion and their pipelines. I even have an official letter stating that. Several residents have asked for a Quantitative Risk Assessment for Dominion’s export expansion AND our neighborhood. A majority of the commissioners have ignored our requests since FERC doesn’t require it. I believe allowing Dominion to expanded is putting more lives at risk.
    Sure Dominion can brag about being safe. However, perhaps many folks have forgotten about the 5,000 gallons of antifreeze accident. Sure, they can blame equipment failure. They are planning to store 410,000 gallons of propane, 14.6 billion cubic ft. of LNG and other toxic, carcinogenic and potentially explosive chemicals including ethane, acid gases and benzene.
    Dominion Cove Point uses “single containment tanks, vulnerable to shrapnel should a nearby explosion occur. If a tank is pierced, leaking LNG can result in a vapor clouds, which are extremely flammable “flash fire” and asphyxiate people they envelop. There are many homes nearby and residents that could be killed in a different “equipment malfunction.
    I’m sure a majority of the commissioners are hoping Dominion’s investment will bring more tax revenue. Meanwhile, our property taxes will be going up and perhaps more folks are being put in danger. That’s another reason why we want a Quantitative Risk Assessment. I believe another gas plant down in Texas did that and bought the homes nearby at the fair market value and paid those nearby residents an additional $20,000 for the construction and moving inconviences or they could stay and keep the $20,000.

    • Alphonso on June 9, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      Maybe you shouldn’t have bought a house near an industrial zoned property.

  5. Andrew P. Clark, Port Republic on June 8, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Patrick, you lost me here:
    “Many of their decisions and behaviors draw the suspicion that they act only as agents for the government itself, or that of financiers on Wall Street, who is trying to take advantage of Calvert County’s citizens. What makes it worse, is that these commissioners seem to dishonor the very citizens, the actual producers of wealth, who work, provide, sacrifice, and toil their lives for their families and fund the government through their taxes, but seem only to honor, protect and reward the county government.”
    First of all, I’m not a huge fan of the county commissioners, but as I am a lifelong Marylander and a native Calvert County resident my whole life I have faith that these elected officials are our family, friends, and neighbors. The idea that they are part of some nefarious plot to enrich themselves and Wall Street is so far fetch that I truly question your sanity. I have numerous friends and relatives that work for the county government, the private sector, and the big bad state and federal governments. They are all normal folks (for the most part) and work hard and want the best for their families and neighbors. We enjoy the highest standard of living in Calvert County and stand at the top of national and international rankings for healthy living, education, infrastructure, government services, etc., etc. All of this costs time and money, we could do things more “economically” as you put it but simply to save you a few dollars, I hardly see the incentive as you clearly already have a grudge against those who have dedicated their careers to serving you.
    Laudable organizations, hmm, yes please, let’s contribute to these institutions that benefit all people of Calvert County and Southern Maryland at large. Annmarie Gardens, a beautiful addition of culture and learning to county resident’s perpetual benefit, for a measly $350k, sign me up! Solomon’s Island annual events, which likely pump ten-fold more money back into the local and regional economy for a paltry $10K, seems like a win-win, sir. St. Mary’s College gets $7k, an institution that for centuries has educated our residents to the highest standard while contributing to the preservation, research, and exhibition of our shared historical/cultural heritage. Sorry they did not get MORE! And you have the audacity to criticize $330K for ARC of Southern Maryland. Do you even know what that organization does?!? Serving the disabled of our community with education, home care, and advocacy. Something that our county does not do, but I would argue cannot do effectively for so little money. Get a grip sir, you are so passionate, yet so mis-informed. I think a discussion on how our government spends our tax dollars is always appropriate and valuable, but you have turned this into a bitter rant over trivial expenses and as a result have lost all credibility.
    We have an 8 million dollar budget shortfall NOW, not tomorrow, not next year, NOW. We could wait, but there is always risk involved in putting off road maintenance and paying our bills. Pension and health benefits are contractually an obligation from the County to its employees, it verges on illegal and unethical to deny these hard working people what they were promised simply because you do not want to pay. In the private sector I believe they call that theft, as they do in really any sector. You don’t like their benefits? Tough, you don’t get to make that decision. Want to change it to put it more in line with the “private sector”? Please advocate for such, as is your rite as a resident-citizen but we are all not as deluded as you as to believe that what county employees have is a fat-cat deal, why? Because we know them, know what they make (it’s a matter of public record) and know that they are for the most part richly deserving of the money and benefits they have EARNED.

  6. Big Moe on June 8, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    They (Comissioners) have to pay for all that construction work that is going on in St. Leonard some how! Oh wait, doesn’t one of the very same people (Comissioner Weems)talking about have a business right in the heart of St.Leonard. FOR THE PEOPLE..YEA RIGHT!

  7. Sean on June 8, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Mr. Flaherty,

    Before you make certain comments, you should make sure you have all the information and data available. Do you realize the positions in the county government below those of executive positions, typically pay less then the equivalent job in the private sector? One of the ways small county governments recruit is to advertise lower healthcare cost and year round work. If you ask any state or county employee, Pay is not in their top 5 reasons for working in the public sector. I am sure you would not be one to call and complain when manpower shortage happens during a snowstorm roads are not plowed because the county could not get anyone to work for the wages it can afford.
    The money that is slated to go to private organizations.. maybe you should ask the Solomon’s business associations how much money comes into the county from events held in Solomon’s and Ann Marie Gardens. How many more thousands of people come down in a single weekend, spend money at small businesses, employing hundreds of people throughout the year. Do you even know the support services that ARC provides to our communities? Do you realize that without them, the entire support system they have in place falls onto the county? You are yelling about $300k when without them, you could be force to pay millions?
    There is always room for budget improvements.But you can not slash and burn your way through a budget. Having lived in Calvert for 10 years and now residing back in St. Marys, I can honestly say during the past 3 decades, Calvert has been the best managed county out of the 3 southern Maryland Counties. From planning and Zoning, to taxes and budgets, they have handled the growth and needs of the community better then both St. Marys and Charles County.

  8. Anonymous on June 8, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    You are absolutely correct on all points. The fact that we have Cove Point and a tax increase is inexcusable! You can only vote for the best people running, which is not good at all.