From: John J. Miara
I would like to comment more fully and more correctly on the article by Samuel Goldreich that appeared in your May 9 paper titled, "County to fill money gaps in budget aging office."
To begin with, the $4.7 million aging budget alluded to is a misnomer, since the county will be putting in only $2.7 million, as found in the proposed county budget, page 559. This amount is less than last year, and in category after category, a decrease is noted. That $2.7 million spending in county funds is out of a $616 million budget and constitutes less than half of 1 percent of the (total) for seniors in this county. Seniors (make up a larger percentage of the population than) the 65,000 school children that the county spends 55 percent of the budget on.
To service the big population of seniors, only 10 merit positions are funded, as found on page 563 of the budget. All the rest are contract service-type employees subject to dismissal at any whim of a politician or whomever. Just how many school board employees are contract workers without benefits or tenure?
Funding for the seniors picnicat Kurtz's Beach, a once-a-year activity, has been eliminated. I guess, with no elections scheduled for the year, there is no need to geta big group together that the politicians can wine and dine at our expense. In the future, if the politicians want to count the group of elders, maybe the money should come out of the governor's election campaign funds since these figures quoted are often in the hundreds ofthousands and even millions.
On page 563 in the budget, referenceis made to $17,000 to rent facilities for picnics and events. Why wasn't Downs Park used, which would have been free, after we spent millions to develop it?
In the fiscal 1991 year budget, six replacement vans were requested for a cost of $133,700 (page 561). To date (May15), not a one has been delivered. Five of nine vans now in use haveover 120,000 miles on them.
The Department of Aging submitted no capital outlay request, yet a large meeting room is needed at the Arnold Senior Center where guest speakers can appear and modern dance and aerobic classes could be conducted. This is actually a health hazard, having these sweaty bodies exercise in the cafeteria of the center.
No mention is made in Mr. Goldreich's article about the new $10 fee to be slapped on each senior participant per quarter for taking courses. This is a potential $40 fee per year times thousands.
Carole Baker, the out-of-county Department head, is quoted as saying, "I think we're lucky to be able to maintain all our services and not lose any positions in this kind of economic climate." Can you picture the school superintendent making a statement similar to this -- or is the response that no matter what, we always get 10 percent more!
I ask: Where are the advocates for the frail, the weak and needy seniors?
PUT ISIS ON BACK BURNER
From: Roy Kampmeyer
(County Executive) Bob Neall proposes to give $1 million to the ISIS project. It would be better to freeze ISIS funds until the Annapolis Pilot Program is fully analyzed.
The Project Management Plan for fiscal year 1991 does not adequately address the student learning experience offered but details the computer update effort. ISIS is being used to upgrade central office administration and to add terminals tothe senior high schools. Do we really have the money to do this? My advice would be to stick with existing equipment and get more efficient!
The school district intends for ISIS to be a nationwide model.ISIS is too large for available funds in Anne Arundel County. Another stated objective is to improve learning with existing software. Thelargest expenditures are for software, hardware and added staff to support ISIS -- all for a system which could be an utter failure in the student learning area.
If the ISIS project is canceled now, the school district will be left with what it wanted in the first place -- new computers to make the work of (the) Riva Road (Board of Education offices) easier and to hire more people for the bureaucracy, underthe guise of "better student learning."
Now, they want more moneyto maintain this monster system. Will it ever end? A computer cannotreplace a teacher. The personal touch, the understanding, the flexibility, the determination of what works best for a student can only bedone by a human being, not a computer.
Anne Arundel County shouldnot use public funds to support IBM profits. We are not the wealthiest county in the United States. Why are we trying to act like it?
DON'T POSTPONE BENEFITS
From: Barry Myers
County Volunteer Firemen's Association
Last year, the council and County Executive established a three-step increase in benefits for
the Volunteer Fire Length of Service Award Program. It was the first time benefits were increased since the program's inception in 1973.
County Executive (Robert R.) Neall has proposed to delay this year's increaseto the following fiscal year. We in the volunteer fire service thinkthis is unfair.
In these tough economic times, we are willing to make our share of sacrifices, and we have. There have been significant cuts in volunteer support by the county already.
Why should our benefits be held up while the paid fire service is slated to receive its merit step increases at a cost that is unknown to us, in additionto a two-hour work week reduction each and every week of the year, costing us taxpayers $1 million a year? In addition to this generous benefit, the paid service will receive another half million dollars toits existing overtime budget.
As you can see, the economic benefits to the paid service are substantial. We in the volunteer service would appreciate only that that County Council honor on schedule its commitment to the volunteer segment of the fire service.
The economic impact of the increase is approximately $150,000, a reasonable cost for the over 25 years of service that each of the volunteer beneficiaries has given the county.