Hayden names panels on taxes and spending


Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden has appointed his former campaign treasurer and the unsuccessful Republican candidate for state comptroller to head key advisory panels on taxes and spending.

Larry M. Epstein, a certified public accountant who was defeated last fall by Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, will head a Tax Equity Committee. The panel will seek ways to make taxes more equitable and recommend "how a new [tax] system could be implemented through the legislative process," said Carol Hirschburg, a spokeswoman for Mr. Hayden.

James M. Anders Jr., the chief financial/operating officer for the Kennedy Institute and Mr. Hayden's former campaign treasurer, will head a Committee on Efficiency, Costs and Spending. It will review county spending with an eye toward streamlining operations and cutting costs, the spokeswoman said.

Making the tax system more equitable has been a goal of a number of state and local advisory panels, including the Linowes commission set up by Gov. William Donald Schaefer, which released its recommendations in November.

A five-member spending affordability committee set up by the Baltimore County Council will examine ways to control spending so that it does not exceed the county's rate of economic growth. The group will hold its first session Jan. 3.

But Ms. Hirschburg said the work done by the executive's two committees would be a top priority for Mr. Hayden, who got an earful in his first bid for elective office last fall about spiraling costs of government and inequities in the state assessment system.

The GOP executive pledged during the race to organize both committees and to follow through on their recommendations.

"They are advisory committees, and maybe there have been advisory committees in the past. But I can tell you, these committees are going to be taken very seriously," Ms. Hirschburg said.

The tax committee will hold its first session Jan. 9 and is due to make its recommendations June 30. The costs committee has no deadline for final recommendations but will be studying each county department, she said.

The chairmen of the two groups were unavailable last night. But group members said their work would depend largely on what Mr. Hayden requested.

"I think a major problem is that the value of a property is no indication of that individual property owner's ability to pay," said Baltimore County District Judge John C. Coolahan, a member of the tax committee and a former state senator from Halethorpe. He said he was a long time advocate of reducing the reliance on the property tax.

Both groups include a cross section of attorneys, accountants, merchants and representatives of senior citizen and taxpayer groups.

Other members of the tax equity committee are James Boyer, Bryson L. Cook, Margaret M. Davis, Baltimore County Finance Director James R. Gibson, Carl Julio, Harold Lloyd, Alfred G. Matthews, Richard Pulse and George Towle.

The costs committee includes Lee E. Coplan, Albert R. Counselman, Judith T. Erler, Jerry Kelly, James L. Layman, David Rhodes, G. Thomas Welzenbach, Carl A. J. Wright and Albert M. Zawodny.

John O'Neill Sr., a leader in the efforts during last fall's election to place a cap on increase in property tax revenues, will serve as vice chairman.

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