2012-05-05 / Editorials & Letters

‘It’s a spending problem’

Editor:

Baltimore appears to be having monetary problems and voters and residents will be paying more to live or work in Baltimore. The first shock will come this month when you will likely see another increase in your water/sewer bill. In November, you will be asked to vote for an income tax increase to fund the Baltimore Police Department. Maybe the next step is an ordinance routing all payroll, Social Security or government assistance checks through the village fiscal office so that they can deduct “their share” first.

Village Council thinks the problem is the fault of “earlier” councils for not increasing water/sewer bills. The hard fact is that the “Board Of Public Affairs” cost village taxpayers about $ 3,000 per year. The Village Administrator position costs us nearly $100,000 a year in salary and benefits and quoting Council member Hochradel, “ 90% of the Village Administrator salary comes from water/sewer funds” (The Beacon 12/3/2011 ). Note that he did not mention “benefits.” The total package cost hasn’t been made public. I know that’s it’s available under the Public Records Act, but I don’t want the “hassle” from requesting it.

I do know “costs” are increasing, but don’t blame “former” councils for the problem created by “this” council. It is estimated that somewhere between $ 700,000 to $ 900,000 has come out of the water/sewer funds over the last eight to 10 years to pay for the Village Administrator. This is NOT an income problem; it’s a spending problem.

The same can be said for the Police Department when it “changed” from a “semi-volunteer” Police Chief to a “fulltime” Police Chief. In 1999, the “budget” for “Security of Persons and Property” was $ 138,372 and in 2009 it was $ 295,410, an increase of 46.84% in 10 years. Even with that increase, the department ended 2011 with “layoffs” of two patrol officers. Apparently we need a Chief, more than we need patrol officers. I wonder how many residents have had their income increase 46.84% in the last 10 years.

According to our state audits, village debt is increasing rapidly. As of 12/31/99, it was $ 858,813, increasing to $ 8,281,140 by 12/31/09. One can only wonder what it was on 12/31/2011. During most of this time, we had a Village Administrator. That’s what makes me believe the position is designed solely to spend money and increase debt. Three of our four administrators went home to another community.

Again, it is NOT an income problem because income is up. The real problem is spending, which falls on the shoulders of the Village Administrator and a Village Council that refuses to do the work necessary in the position they sought. If Village Council says “no,” spending can be cut. We need a majority of “no” votes to stop the spending, since the Mayor still thinks the “growth” is coming to Baltimore.

I think the day is coming when citizens realize what a great job the Board Of Public Affairs did, and that we should return to that system and send the Village Administrator position to the graveyard. Only one Village Administrator has lived here and had to live with what they implemented, and that person did not “break the bank” with an outrageous salary and benefits.

Charles R. Lamb
Baltimore

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