With the announced near term political retirement of now state Sen. and former County Executive James Robey, it is worthwhile to consider what might be his most enduring legacy, namely raising Howard County state income tax rates from one of the lowest to the highest in the state. In particular, in light of the many tax rate increases in other areas imposed on Howard County residents since that time, and the presently proposed increase in real estate taxes before the County Council, it may be asked whether these increases could have been prevented or greatly reduced with a different set of decisions about what the future of Howard County would be with respect to development.
Decisions with respect to growth are critical and responsible politicians should always ask what the net cash flow to the county is from any project, and if that flow is negative, how it can be balanced by other development producing a positive net cash flow to the county. The last, not the first, resort should be to raise taxes in order to maintain services.
The present mass conversions of aging shopping centers into mixed use sites dominated by sprawling apartment complexes together with proposals placing large, dense apartment developments in rural areas, give scant evidence of the needed responsible stewardship.