Queen Anne's County: There is no 'Plan B'

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By Clayton Mitchell

Citizens of Queen Anne’s County be forewarned: At least four, if not all, of the members of the next Queen Anne’s County Commission will be novices. Many candidates vying for these five offices are chanting the same anti-growth “save the farmland” mantra that has infected the majority of county officials for over a decade. For several candidates, advancing an environmental agenda and augmenting the austere local restrictions on growth is their raison d’etre.

If a majority of the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners approach governing in this manner there will be only one result: localized economic Armageddon.

Because of stifled economic activity and rapidly evaporating State and local tax and fee revenues, these greenhorn local legislators and their administrators will certainly inherit a ballooning budget deficit. There will be no time for on-the-job training as the budgetary crisis will be acute and immediate.

Without an active and aggressive pro-growth policy, the local tax base will continue to deteriorate, revenues and fees will necessarily decline, and the inevitable tax increases will follow. In the midst of this Great Recession, the creation of local jobs, business and industry must be the primary focus of our new leaders if we want to preserve and promote a vibrant functioning community.

The anti-growth community, including several candidates for Commissioner, successfully persuaded Senator Mikulski to reverse course and kill the FASTC project. I echo Stephen Meehan’s sentiments and opinions stated in his recent Center Maryland article on the defunct FASTC project. In light of this unfortunate lost economic opportunity, I call on the anti-growth candidates to articulate their economic “Plan B” in depth and with specificity.

The polemical manifesto of the anti-growth movement in Queen Anne’s County is unsustainable.

Raising the property tax or the piggyback tax to balance the county budget will be met with vehement resistance (as the current array of County Commissioners will attest). Concomitantly, further cuts in county services will be met with angered protest from various constituencies.

The anti-growth platform has to be explained and reconciled with the current economic climate where tax increases are counter-productive and program cuts are political suicide. In light of the circumstances, how does one properly and sufficiently fund the county’s programs without a plan for robust economic expansion and job growth?

To the anti-growth candidates: Congratulations on your recent victory. Now that the FASTC project has been taken away and sent to greener pastures, what is your “Plan B” for economic growth and public funding? As of today, you either don’t have one or I cannot hear you through the trees.

Clayton Mitchell is an attorney in Stevensville and a member of the Eastern Shore Leadership Council.
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