- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In the July 11 issue of The Calvert Recorder, Thomas Phelps, president of the Calvert County Fraternal Order of Police, published a letter [“Clark should relook at ‘conservative spending’”] challenging Commissioner Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark’s (R) record on “conservative spending” in light of the fact that there will be “no pay steps to county employees because no money is available.” In particular, he highlighted a number of capital projects in the Solomons area, asking why these things were funded in a conservative budget.
It is important to note that these town center improvements were capital projects that were not paid for out of the general operating fund, and each is part of an adopted plan. Funding for these projects came from a variety of restricted sources, such as the road excise tax, recreation impact fee, bond funds, Program Open Space, etc. These funds cannot be used for operating expenses.
In the examples Mr. Phelps cites in his letter — the road signs, traffic circle and park — all are in a town center that is developed in accordance with a publicly endorsed master plan. Solomons is an excellent example of a place where proactive citizen participation in the process made an enormous difference. All of the amenities we enjoy today — the boardwalk, fishing pier, playground, watermen’s park, even the sidewalks — were built in accordance with the original master plan adopted in 1986. This includes the traffic circle and road signs. Additionally, the library has its own strategic planning document that has long called for a larger facility to serve the southern end of the county. The park is identified in the Program Open Space plan and the parks and recreation master plan. In short, these are not pork barrel projects that came out of nowhere.
Mr. Phelps seems to suggest that Commissioner Clark tossed these amenities into the budget to beautify the town where he has a business. Another perspective might suggest that Commissioner Clark has been a staunch advocate for Solomons — part of his job as an elected official from the southern district — and has worked tirelessly to see that the adopted master plan was completed. In most circles, this would be considered the mark of a successful politician.
For my part, I would like to express my deep appreciation to all of the commissioners for their continued support of our efforts to make Solomons a good place to live and work and an attractive tourist destination. Despite the challenging economic situation, Calvert County continues to grow and thrive. That is something to celebrate.
Alton Kersey, Solomons