Letters

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Don't blame citizens for delaying HB 491

It's been a month since the House Environmental Matters Committee heard testimony for and against HB 491. Then and since we've heard how an unofficial survey, e-mails and phone calls as well as maintaining their 5A power structure were sufficient reasons to go against the grain and voice of the people. Knowing just how much opposition there is for Option 1, our delegation refuses to provide a compromise or solution to this issue.

They'd rather have it die in committee so a judge can decide how to carve up the county or better yet, give Senator Haines what he originally wanted, the five commissioners elected at large instead of by district.

The latest accusation is that those of us who testified against HB 491 have messed up what the voters wanted. It was Senators Haines, Brinkley and Kittleman, and Delegates Stocksdale and Shewell that have messed up what the voters wanted by attempting to circumvent the will of the people. Typical, isn't it? Blame everyone else and take no responsibility for their own actions.

All eight municipalities who represent thousands and all three commissioners who represent all of us, those closest to the people are the voice of the people, not the power hungry attitudes in Annapolis.

Suggesting that citizens who speak out against elected officials and their decisions are messing things up is a slap in the citizens' faces. It is our constitutional right to petition any body of government.

I wonder if it ever occurred to the fabulous five that if the House committee is struggling with making a decision on HB 491 that there is reason to find a compromise?

If, after the hearing on Feb. 16, our delegation would have sat down with those of us who traveled to Annapolis to testify against the bill, the districting committee, all eight mayors and the commissioners and attempted to find a solution, the delegation would be heroes.

Instead they dug in their heels, rested on their arrogance that they know better than we do and have allowed no decision to be made on this important issue and have now blamed We the People for exercising our rights.

Michelle Jefferson Westminster

Delegates protect against over-taxation

I still haven't stopped laughing over an editorial of March 14, 2006, which ran in a different local paper, that accused the majority of our county delegation of being "tax and spend liberals" as relating to state level budget issues.

It seems plain to me that the record, in particular focusing on national issues, does not support such conclusions. It was not so long ago when the majority of the delegation beat back the ill-conceived and unnecessary transfer tax. I appreciate Delegate Tanya Shewell's, District 5-A, leadership on that issue.

The majority of the delegation favors a reduction in the cap on assessment increases for owner occupied homes from 7 percent to 5 percent. I am thankful for the majority of the delegation for this effort to limit over-taxation on ordinary taxpayers.

I am struck by an eerie parallel between the Option 1 versus Option 2 commissioner map controversy. Those who favored the transfer tax have lined up behind the Option 2 map. Perhaps not coincidentally, this Option 2 map is the preferred plan of the Democratic Central Committee.

In contrast, Senator Allan Kittleman, District 9, voted against the transfer tax and for the Option 1 map. This map is noted for keeping Sykesville and Eldersburg strongly united as a single commissioner district. I am proud to have Senator Kittleman as part of our representation in Annapolis. I'm guessing he will remain one of our senators for about as long as he wishes to remain in that position.

Michael D. Zimmer Eldersburg

The writer is a declared candidate for county commissioner.

Haines seems in sync with real estate plan

I read with interest your article about conflict of interest with respect to Mr. Haines and legislation affecting real estate in Carroll County. In your article you made the statement, "Instead, Haines is sponsoring a bill to increase tax credits for homeowners facing rising assessments in Carroll County - something that could enhance property values and benefit realtors."

First of all, I think that enhanced property values benefit the property owner, not the realtor, unless the property is listed for sale. Let's do the math ... say this legislation adds 10 percent to someone's property value. So instead of selling his house for $100,000 he or she sells it for $110,000, a 10 percent increase.

Now suppose the listing commission is 5 percent. The total commission at $100,000 is $5,000. At $110,000, the commission is $5,500. Now then, that $500 increase in the commission is split between the selling broker and the buying broker, that means a $250 increase. Now that $250 gets divided 50-50 between broker and agent. That is an increase of $125.

I am sure that even you can agree that it is not a huge benefit to the realtor. Meanwhile the property owner takes home an additional $4,500 from his sale. I ask you, is that a bad thing?

As for Mr. McIntire's comment that a 1 percent transfer tax "... is innocuous and adds only onto the cost of settlement. Of course, some people cannot be objective because they are in the real estate business."

Let's remember that Maryland is one of the most expensive states in the country to settle real estate and that innocuous fee amounts to an additional $1,000 to the sale of a $100,000 property.

So what I want to know is, how is Mr. Haines in conflict? Certainly his constituents must be happy to know that he is doing what he can to ensure that the value of their largest asset is increasing. Is he not expected to serve the needs of his constituents? Furthermore if property values continue to rise in Carroll County, won't real estate tax revenues increase? Think of the problem if values became stagnant.

There are more pressing issues of conflict than this one. As you mentioned in your article, medical malpractice reform is far more important. Why not examine those conflicts and take a look at the contributions that our illustrious legal community take, then give us a headline that might actually help the average citizen.

Jim May

Stevenson

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