2014 County Council Surveys

ALL COUNTY COUNCIL CANDIDATES, CHALLENGERS AND INCUMBENTS, RECEIVED A SURVEY VIA EMAIL. BELOW ARE THE ANSWERS RECEIVED, POSTED VERBATIM.

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MIKE PERRONE, Candidate District A

Will you oppose any new taxes and tax increases while in office?
Yes – during this term. If applicable, probably during future terms as well – depends where we are then.

Will you oppose any new fees for county services, or increase in current fees while in office?
Yes – during this term. If applicable, probably during future terms as well – depends where we are then.

Will you vote against any and all spending increases while in office?
Not necessarily – depends on what the spending would be on. In terms of total spending, I would vote against any operating budget that exceeds the (prior year budget x inflation % x % increase in county population). During this term.

Do you support the bonding out of debt to pay Harford County’s current $700 million liability in unfunded pensions and healthcare costs of county employees?
No – debt should only be issues for the acquisition of capital assets, or construction costs.

Do you support the increase of property taxes to pay the same unfunded liabilities?
No.

Will you oppose the placement of speed cameras, red light cameras and stop sign cameras in Harford County?
Yes.

Will you oppose any attempt to provide a taxpayer funded handout or subsidy to a private business entity?
Yes.

Do you support the existence of an Office of Sustainability?
No.

Do you support Harford County’s proposed spending of $72 million for a cultural arts center?

No.

Do you agree with Harford County’s ability to grant “conditional loans” as passed in Bill 12-29 by the previous County Council?
Bill 12-29 pertained the the Charter Amendment process, but no – Harford County should not be in the business of lending, period.

Will you oppose any new legislation that restricts Second Amendment rights or restricts gun ownership? If so, how would you oppose it?

Yes. I would submit to the Council President a resolution indicating that the Council rejects all infringements on the 2nd Amendment rights of Harford County citizens. I would then submit a bill to nullify the legislation in Harford County.

Would you refuse to implement the “Rain Tax” should the state attempt to apply it to Harford County?
Yes.

Would you vote to approve federal funds or grants intended for federal military equipment in the Sheriff Department’s budget?
No.

Do you believe Harford County Public Schools’ funding should be above the state-mandated Maintenance of Effort?
I don’t believe Maintenance of Effort should be contemplated in the budget process – the state has no right to dictate local budget terms to the counties. I am not advocating confronting the state just for confrontation’s sake, but at the end of the day, the state’s “authority” stems from their funding – they claim they would withhold funding from any county that does not comply with Maintenance of Effort. I do not believe the state would follow through on such a threat (just as they did not follow through on their threat of fines when Carroll County essentially rejected the Rain Tax). If the state withdrew its funding, HCPS would collapse, and I don’t believe they would allow that to happen.

All this having been said, even in the absence of MOE – my intent would not be to cut HCPS’ budget; just stop it from growing at a rate that far outpaces inflation.

Would you vote for the implementation of a rental livability code?

We already have one – Chapter 162 of the Harford County Code. I certainly would not vote to expand it as we don’t need it – if a landlord is not fulfilling the terms of his/her lease and a tenant seeks remedy, we have a court system.

Would you vote the implementation of a new “Hotel Tax” for Harford County?
No.

Would you support and work to enact a tax credit for homeschooling families or families who elect to send their children to private school?
No. I support the public funding of education. If tax credits are given for private schools and homeschooling, then tax credits should also be given to those without children… at that point, public funding has essentially ceased to exist.

That having been said, I would fully support a voucher system under which students would be eligible for an amount of money – say somewhere between 75 and 90% of HCPS’ cost per pupil – that would come directly out of HCPS’ budget and could be used for private school tuition. I probably wouldn’t support a voucher for homeschooling – that would open the door to widespread fraud, I think.

Do you think it’s your duty to interpose between Harford County citizens and the federal or state government if unconstitutional acts are passed?
Yes.

Would you be more likely to vote party over principle or principle over party?
Principle over party.

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Eric Daxon, Candidate District C

Will you oppose any new taxes and tax increases while in office?
Yes – I see no reason in this economy to burden the taxpayers further.

Will you oppose any new fees for county services, or increase in current fees while in office?
Yes – a fee is a tax.

Will you vote against any and all spending increases while in office?
Yes – absolutely for this term, and going forward as much as humanly possible. I think there are ways the County can use its resources to add money back to the budget, and areas we can cut, before we increase spending.

Do you support the bonding out of debt to pay Harford County’s current $700 million liability in unfunded pensions and healthcare costs of county employees?
No. While our Triple A bond rating is a matter of pride for the county, we should strive to pay these debts in the current budget whenever possible. I will not support additional bonds without first poring over the books to fund these liabilities in other manners.

Do you support the increase of property taxes to pay the same unfunded liabilities?
No. Definitely not.

Will you oppose the placement of speed cameras, red light cameras and stop sign cameras in Harford County?
Yes. Our fine police force does a good job keeping us safe without needing faulty computer surveillance.

Will you oppose any attempt to provide a taxpayer funded handout or subsidy to a private business entity?
Yes.

Do you support the existence of an Office of Sustainability?
No. Now that Harford County has terminated its membership in ICLEI, the Office of Sustainability should be dismantled. Any salvageable programs, such as changing buildings over to energy efficient lighting, can be handled by Electrical or Building Services.

Do you support Harford County’s proposed spending of $72 million for a cultural arts center?
No. Not in this economy.

Do you agree with Harford County’s ability to grant “conditional loans” as passed in Bill 12-29 by the previous County Council?
No – I think the option to give out free taxpayer money should be repealed.

Will you oppose any new legislation that restricts Second Amendment rights or restricts gun ownership? If so, how would you oppose it?
Yes. I would choose to mirror Carroll County’s Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolution in answering liberal gun grab tactics. That resolution combined the support of the legislative, law enforcement and judicial bodies – it was thoughtfully planned, and legal. Our citizens have inherent rights, and the Second Amendment is an important one.

Would you refuse to implement the “Rain Tax” should the state attempt to apply it to Harford County?
Yes. While our state legislators are working to repeal the Rain Tax in Annapolis, our County Council should be working to repeal it in Harford County, at least as far as our citizens are concerned. I will work with Council members for legitimate ways to relieve this burden from private citizens and small businesses.

Would you vote to approve federal funds or grants intended for federal military equipment in the Sheriff Department’s budget?
I am not as familiar with the Sheriff Department’s budget, and what is included in it. But I do not see a need for an armored tactical assault tank (BearCat).

Do you believe Harford County Public Schools’ funding should be above the state-mandated Maintenance of Effort?
No. Once above, it cannot be pulled back.

Would you vote for the implementation of a rental livability code?
No.

Would you vote the implementation of a new “Hotel Tax” for Harford County?
Absolutely not. I have spoken to some of the hoteliers in Harford County, and they are against this tax, no matter what the rhetoric may be.

Would you support and work to enact a tax credit for homeschooling families or families who elect to send their children to private school?
Yes, so long as homeschooler families and private school families were in on the process.

Do you think it’s your duty to interpose between Harford County citizens and the federal or state government if unconstitutional acts are passed?
Yes, it is even more so for local officials.

Would you be more likely to vote party over principle or principle over party?
I will vote on principles.

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CHAD SHRODES, Candidate District D

Will you oppose any new taxes and tax increases while in office?
I have never voted for a new or increased tax in my two terms on the council. I twice voted to lower the county’s property tax rates, which has saved county taxpayers $50 million.

Will you oppose any new fees for county services, or increase in current fees while in office?
Yes, I voted against increases to the landfill tipping fee, and voted against the local Rain Tax bill. I also sponsored a bill that reduced the amount of the Impact Fee (Bill 09-37) in 2009, after Bill 09-29 to repeal the $8,269.00 Impact Fee in its entirety failed to pass the County Council.

Will you vote against any and all spending increases while in office?
Yes, the county should continue to find ways to reduce spending and not take on any new or unnecessary funding obligations.

Do you support the bonding out of debt to pay Harford County’s current $700 million liability in unfunded pensions and healthcare costs of county employees?
No. Bonding should be reserved for long term capital projects.

Do you support the increase of property taxes to pay the same unfunded liabilities?
No.

Will you oppose the placement of speed cameras, red light cameras and stop sign cameras in Harford County?
Yes.

Will you oppose any attempt to provide a taxpayer funded handout or subsidy to a private business entity?
Yes. I oppose taxpayer giveaways and voted against both TIFs.

Do you support the existence of an Office of Sustainability?
The office and their two employees have saved the taxpayers of Harford County millions of dollars in just a few years. If at some point the office does not produce positive results, then it should be eliminated. Also, the county should not be a member of ICLEI.

Do you support Harford County’s proposed spending of $72 million for a cultural arts center?
No. I support the arts. If the building moves forward in the future, it should be built in phases and largely funded by private contributors. That being said, I believe that it is unrealistic and difficult to justify that Harford County tax payers and/or donors can afford the construction of a Cultural Arts Center at the proposed price tag.

Do you agree with Harford County’s ability to grant “conditional loans” as passed in Bill 12-29 by the previous County Council?
No. I voted against this bill, being the only council member to do so. Loans of taxpayer money should not be forgiven by the county.

Will you oppose any new legislation that restricts Second Amendment rights or restricts gun ownership? If so, how would you oppose it?
Yes.  I will vote against any bill restricting Second Amendment rights or otherwise restricts gun ownership.

Would you refuse to implement the “Rain Tax” should the state attempt to apply it to Harford County?
I voted against the Rain Tax. But the bigger issue that we all need to be wary of is the federal MS4 permit requirements and the state’s enforcement of penalties for noncompliance, both of which could have a significant impact on taxpayers. So it is very important that we work with our federal and state representatives to address the mandates coming from the EPA and MDE, and I will continue to advocate on behalf of our taxpaying citizens and businesses.

Would you vote to approve federal funds or grants intended for federal military equipment in the Sheriff Department’s budget?
If the equipment in question infringes on individual liberties and/or does not serve to improve community safety then the answer is no.

Do you believe Harford County Public Schools’ funding should be above the state-mandated Maintenance of Effort?
Before increasing funding levels to public schools, the county administration and the school system need to eliminate duplicative functions, freeing up more funding for the classroom. Funding increases for public schools should be very carefully considered, weighing the county’s ability to meet the higher Maintenance of Effort in future budget cycles without raising taxes. We can’t allow our schools to get to the point where they are not properly educating students and preparing them for the future, but more money is not always the answer.

Would you vote for the implementation of a rental livability code?
Most likely not, but I would have to read any legislation that might be introduced. I wouldn’t be a very good representative of the citizens if I passed judgment without reading bills first. I have never been a fan of livability codes and have always been an advocate for property owner rights.

Would you vote the implementation of a new “Hotel Tax” for Harford County?
Yes, provided that the funding is used for a purpose that benefits the county’s taxpayers (such as lowering the property or income tax of our residents). Harford’s taxpayers have had to unfairly subsidize visitors who use our roads and services, while at the same time we pay hotel taxes everywhere we travel, since we are one of the few places in the country without a lodging tax.

Would you support and work to enact a tax credit for homeschooling families or families who elect to send their children to private school?
Yes, as long as this can be done without harming other taxpayers by raising rates.

Do you think it’s your duty to interpose between Harford County citizens and the federal or state government if unconstitutional acts are passed?
It is if the act in question is requiring county government to take an unconstitutional action.

Would you be more likely to vote party over principle or principle over party?
I have always voted principle over party and always will. However, my record and values as a fiscal conservative are in line with the Republican Party.

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JOHNATHAN GRIMMEL, Candidate District D

• Will you oppose any new taxes and tax increases while in office?
o No. I’ll work hard to make sure government is cost effective and utilize current tax levels without having to increase them whenever possible. Our responsibility is to set tax rates at the level needed to pay for the services we want from government.

• Will you oppose any new fees for county services, or increase in current fees while in office?
o No, we need to pay for the services we want from government. It’s hard to say if in the future taxpayers will want new or better services from government. I will always work to make sure that services are cost-effective to try and keep fees as low as possible.

• Will you vote against any and all spending increases while in office?
o No, it is impossible to say if there would be a time when the tax-payers of Harford County will want or need something more from local government.

• Do you support the bonding out of debt to pay Harford County’s current $700 million liability in unfunded pensions and healthcare costs of county employees?
o No, I’m not a huge fan of debt to begin with, but using one debt to pay for other debt sets a bad precedent that I do not in support.

• Do you support the increase of property taxes to pay the same unfunded liabilities?
o No, I do not support paying unfunded liabilities via an increase of property taxes.

• Will you oppose the placement of speed cameras, red light cameras and stop sign cameras in Harford County?

o no, as long as they are cost effNective I think they are key to public safety, which should be a priority for government whose job is public service and safety.

• Will you oppose any attempt to provide a taxpayer funded handout or subsidy to a private business entity?
o No, there will be times when government help will be needed to keep crucial commodities affordable during tough economic times.

• Do you support the existence of an Office of Sustainability?

o Yes, one of my initiatives, if elected, is to create a Office of Performance Assessment which will make sure government is being cost-effective and to let the public know what it is doing to perform better.

Do you support Harford County’s proposed spending of $72 million for a cultural arts center?
o No. I am a supporter of the arts as a means to stimulate creativity in our society, which is something that makes America great. However as of right now(2014) I feel there are currently more essential uses for those resources.

• Do you agree with Harford County’s ability to grant “conditional loans” as passed in Bill 12-29 by the previous County Council?
o No, I am in favor of true loans where the County gets a return on its investment. I am not in favor of loans that do not have to be paid back if conditions are met, which I consider a handout, not a loan.

• Will you oppose any new legislation that restricts Second Amendment rights or restricts gun ownership? If so, how would you oppose it?

o Yes. I will oppose any attempts by government to infringe on hardworking taxpayers’ second amendment rights.

• Would you refuse to implement the “Rain Tax” should the state attempt to apply it to Harford County?
o I would not implement the current “Rain Tax” (as of April 2014) until there is a concrete amendment/ definition that mandates that funds will ONLY go towards Storm Water Management programs and not unrelated programs.

• Would you vote to approve federal funds or grants intended for federal military equipment in the Sheriff Department’s budget?
o Yes, while there is not a need for tanks and related items, there is a need for refurbished firearms, such as the Vietnam era M-16’s, which can be converted to semi-automatic weapons for law enforcement officers.

• Do you believe Harford County Public Schools’ funding should be above the state-mandated Maintenance of Effort?

o No, MOE makes sure that federal funds don’t replace local funds but instead adds to local funds so that we are able to provide a 21st century education system, and to prevent funds from being diverted to unproductive areas.

• Would you vote for the implementation of a rental livability code?

o Yes, its important that the public is safe in their own homes, but if these codes are to excessive and make matters worse instead of better, then I would not support such legislation.

• Would you vote the implementation of a new “Hotel Tax” for Harford County?
o Yes, I would. Harford County is the only county that does not implement this tax, which puts Harford County at a competitive disadvantage. This Lodging fee legislation must be drafted with the hotel partners at the table to make sure this fee is fair.

• Would you support and work to enact a tax credit for home-schooling families or families who elect to send their children to private school?
o Yes. A tax credit is a fair way to balance the tax burden for those families who are homeschooling their children or choose private education.

• Do you think it’s your duty to interpose between Harford County citizens and the federal or state government if unconstitutional acts are passed?
o Yes, as a public servant, interjecting when unconstitutional acts are being pressed on Harford County taxpayers will be my honor and duty.

• Would you be more likely to vote party over principle or principle over party?
o Principle over party. My parents have instilled in me strong, conservative Christian principles and values that have formed my allegiances to the people and my principles, not a party.

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Dan Lambros, Candidate District E

Will you oppose any new taxes and tax increases while in office?
YES
Will you oppose any new fees for county services, or increase in current fees while in office? YES

Will you vote against any and all spending increases while in office?
YES
Do you support the bonding out of debt to pay Harford County’s current $700 million liability in unfunded pensions and healthcare costs of county employees? NO

Do you support the increase of property taxes to pay the same unfunded liabilities? NO

Will you oppose the placement of speed cameras, red light cameras and stop sign cameras in Harford County? YES

Will you oppose any attempt to provide a taxpayer funded handout or subsidy to a private business entity? YES

Do you support the existence of an Office of Sustainability? NO

Do you support Harford County’s proposed spending of $72 million for a cultural arts center? NO

Do you agree with Harford County’s ability to grant “conditional loans” as passed in Bill 12-29 by the previous County Council? NO

Will you oppose any new legislation that restricts Second Amendment rights or restricts gun ownership? If so, how would you oppose it? YES, ONCE ELECTED, I WILL STAND UP FOR THE SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS OF ALL HARFORD COUNTY RESIDENTS. I WILL STAND UP AGAINST STATE, FEDERAL, AND LOCAL ENCROACHMENTS ON THE RIGHTS OF ALL MARYLANDERS.

Would you refuse to implement the “Rain Tax” should the state attempt to apply it to Harford County? YES

Would you vote to approve federal funds or grants intended for federal military equipment in the Sheriff Department’s budget? NO

Do you believe Harford County Public Schools’ funding should be above the state-mandated Maintenance of Effort? NO

Would you vote for the implementation of a rental livability code? NO

Would you vote the implementation of a new “Hotel Tax” for Harford County? NO

Would you support and work to enact a tax credit for homeschooling families or families who elect to send their children to private school?
YES

Do you think it’s your duty to interpose between Harford County citizens and the federal or state government if unconstitutional acts are passed?
YES

Would you be more likely to vote party over principle or principle over party?
PRINCIPLE OVER PARTY IN EVERY SITUATION

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IF YOU WISH TO SEE MORE ANSWERS FROM CANDIDATES, ESPECIALLY THOSE OF THE INCUMBENTS, PLEASE CONTACT THE CANDIDATES AND ASK THEM TO PARTICIPATE!