Pittman Comments on Schuh Budget

Pittman Comments on Schuh Budget

County Executive Schuh’s final budget demonstrates that his priorities for the first three years were wrong, and his plan to fund government from the proceeds of spurred growth and development has failed. We are growing by leaps and bounds but are failing to hire and retain the teachers, firefighters, and police that we need to serve our growing population.

His cuts in the fees developers pay for sewer and water connection may have spurred development but they cost taxpayers dearly and had no impact on housing affordability. The amusement tax cut for movie theaters was not passed on to customers. And the $36 million tax break for Live! Casino Hotel’s Conference Center was a gift that taxpayers couldn’t afford to give.

The property tax rate came down not because Steve Schuh wanted it to, but because our county charter requires it. Schuh’s extra two-tenths of a cent per $100 on a $400,000 home will certainly look good on a campaign mailer, and it will give homeowners the $8 they need to buy a burger at one of Mr. Schuh’s restaurants, but it’s not much good for the kids who sit in overcrowded classrooms.

The projected increase in student enrollment for 2018 and 2019 combined is 3,200. After adding no new classroom positions in the 2018 budget, we see an addition of 50 in 2019. That is a ratio of one teacher for every 64 students. It’s a slap in the face to the school board, the teachers, the parents, and most of all the kids.

The county executive ran on a plan to grow from under 700 sworn police officers to over 800. He has created positions but failed to fill them because he ignored evidence showing that compensation must be competitive with nearby jurisdictions. He saved the raises for an election year but should have done them in year one of his administration. Then we’d have had more luck hiring and retaining.

When the county executive cancelled the federal grant that would have funded 52 new firefighters, the decision was viewed by many as retribution for an embarrassing arbitration experience that favored the union. Now we are desperately trying to keep up with the call volume generated by a growing population.

It’s time for county government to take care of the people who live here, rather than investing our money in efforts to spur growth.

Posted on 01 May 2018, 01:49 - Category: Campaign News

By Authority of Friends of Steuart Pittman, VIrginia Clagett Treasurer
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