- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The letter in last week’s The Calvert Recorder from Thomas Phelps [“Clark should relook at ‘conservative spending,’” July 11] is particularly disturbing because of the unwarranted attack on the president of the county commissioners. Mr. Phelps is suggesting that Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R) is singularly calling the shots on county spending to the peril of the county employees and to the singular benefit of Solomons.
Calvert County’s Comprehensive Plan is not governed by any one person as Phelps suggests. In reality, a town center master plan reflects the desires and priorities of the citizens and the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning. It is reviewed and approved by all of the county commissioners. The county’s first master plan for town centers was drafted more than 20 years ago for Solomons. The traffic circle that Phelps demeans was the last item to be completed on that plan. One possible reason for the delay in construction was the continued review of the design and justification for its need. The roundabout was conceived long before Jerry Clark became a commissioner. The concept of the master plan was so successful that other town centers are currently using it as a model.
The decorative street signs were requested by the citizens in a public planning meeting and are one of first items to be funded from the current master plan. To suggest that these line items were funded because Jerry Clark owns a business in Solomons is ludicrous.
The development of the county’s budget is a difficult process that balances all of the county’s needs within the funds available. To establish a balanced budget without raising taxes is a hallmark of conservative spending. The commissioners should be commended for their efforts.
What Mr. Phelps apparently is objecting to are the priorities and allocations of the county’s budget. He appears to be advocating reducing capital expenditures and increasing county employees’ remuneration, specifically for the members of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Mr. Phelps does not address the commissioners’ track record in funding the sheriff’s office. From 2002 to 2013, the commissioners have increased the sherriff’s office personnel by 44 percent and salaries and costs by more than 90 percent. The commissioners’ contribution to the sheriff’s office pension plan for 2013 exceeds $2.7 million.
I would suggest that the county commissioners have their priorities right and should be applauded for their conservatism in budgeting. In this time of municipalities declaring bankruptcy to survive, public budgeting is an extremely difficult task. Perhaps this is a time for continued conservatism and staying a course that has worked so well.
Ed Bahniuk, Solomons