On December 11th, the County Executive held a hearing on the FY2019 budget.
I testified at the hearing and shared my concerns that the County’s ability to deliver quality services is diminishing while the risk of higher County debt is increasing because:
The County is not charging market-based school surcharge fees.
The County is giving free money to developers such as the Columbia TIF.
The County is proposing the Savage Mills parkland swap that will give public land to a developer for private use.
On Monday, September 18th, 2017, I testified in front of the County Council to support the creation of the Economic Prosperity and Opportunity Task force.
I pointed to two major threats that local economies, including Howard County face - massive job losses due to automation and major infrastructure destruction due to climate change disasters.
I suggested that the task force look into using debt-free college programs as an incentive to steer the future workforce into clean and green technology related jobs.
I also stated that the increase of the minimum wage is long overdue. The increase of the minimum wage could be tied to programs that steer the future workforce into jobs that are value-add, automation proof, and offshore proof.
The county can leverage its great schools, its highly educated residents, and public and private organizations to help solve these challenges.
On Monday, September 18th, 2017, I testified in front of the County Council to support the repeal of the Columbia tax increment financing (TIF - definition).
The TIF authorized the county to issue a $90 million tax increment financing for the construction of a public parking garage, roads, and intersection improvements in Downtown Columbia.
Here is substance of my testimony as well as the video of the testimony.
If the board approves this plan as it is, it can compel those who review the land-swap and alternative compliance petition to approve the requests since the department of planning and zoning (DPZ) recommended approval assuming the approval of those requests. This creates a bias toward a certain outcome.