Friday, September 26, 2008

Baltimore County Spending

I decided to delve deeply into all the stuff I'll be voting for this November. Considering the fact that my wife and I now live in Baltimore County, we have county finances to vote on this election day. My initial thoughts on that were to vote against the lot of them on principle. But, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and look into the details to decide for myself. In some most cases, the amount asked remained the same or decreased a bit since the 2006 budgetary votes. Yet, there are three areas in which the increases ranged from 13 to 75%. For this, I'll go to the numbers.

First area is public works. In 2006, they asked for $74.5 million dollars. In 2008, they're looking for $84.4 million. That's a 13% increase over the course of two years. Was inflation that big in the course of two years? I don't believe so. The cost of gasoline has increased which may have led to increased costs amongst public works vehicles, so I can give them that, but I'd like to see a bit more on the reasoning behind this increase in spending. I'm leaning towards voting for this larger increase.

Secondly comes a 45% increase in spending for public schools from $72.5 million to over $105 million. Where does the money increase? Should our students have a 45% better education? Are we hiring more teachers? For the cost of gasoline for their buses, I could understand ever a 20% increase in spending to account for it. But 45%. It just seems too high. Again, I'd like to see where this number comes from. If the Baltimore County Council just pulls it out of thin air...then we've got some issues. I feel like I'm back up in New York as I'm definitely going to vote against this school budget unless I can find a valid reason to warrant such an increase.

The final major increase is 75% higher than 2006. From 2006 to 2008, they're claiming they need to increase community college spending by 12.9 million dollars. Unless they're building a new school or going into all manner of new hiring, I don't see where that amount is coming from. Even if they are building a new college, I'd like to hear the reasons why. Community Colleges are vital to our community, but they also charge students admission which should cover some of the cost. I know in New York, Community Colleges got some state funding. I'm uncertain if that's the case in Maryland -- anyone who wants to let me know...I'm all ears. Even if they're not, I'd like to see a valid reason for spending $12.9 million more than in 2006. I've yet to find any information in the news, but I'm new to the area and new searching for local news. I can not find any reason to call for such an increase unless I'm missing some massive influx of students in Baltimore County's community college system that requires a need for more staff or buildings. Please, someone let me know if that's the case...if so, I'll stop my yammering on this. But -- until there's a proven need, I'm voting against this.

The taxpaying public can't just take "borrowing requests" at face value. They need to question and figure out what this monetary issue's all about. If there's no basis behind the increased budget, then why should I vote in favor of it. Please, enlighten me...

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