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HOWARD COUNTY COUNTY COUNCIL DISTRICT 5
Education: B.S., John Carroll University J.D., University of Toledo College of Law
Attorney in private practice (estates and trusts, and taxation) in Maryland since 1983, and in Howard County since 1995. I am also a certified public accountant. I served on both the Howard County Board of Appeals (10 years) and on the Howard County Charter Review Commission.
What are your views on the use of tax-increment financing as an incentive for private building and redevelopment projects, including remodeling blighted village centers in Columbia?
Walsh: In general, I am opposed to the use of tax-increment financing (TIF) for private projects. I believe TIFs give an unfair competitive advantage to the favored developer compared to another developer on whom the County did not bestow a TIF.
2 SCHOOL SAFETY
With rising concern over school safety, should county police officers or sheriff’s deputies be assigned to all public schools, along with additional screening methods, such as metal detectors, student pat-downs and clear backpacks?
Walsh: A trained law enforcement officer should regularly be present in every school. In addition, we should use best available technology practices, including reinforced glass and doors, communications systems, alarms, security cameras that can be monitored by police (both remotely and on-site), and other features designed to stop an attacker in their tracks. I have proposed setting up a charitable foundation to which tax-deductible contributions (not subject to the recently added cap on state and local taxes) could be made to fund these improvements. The estimated cost for installing this program in every Howard County school would be approximately $40 million. My proposal could be fully implemented with an average contribution of $80 per year for five years by each household in Howard County.
Are there any county government services that should be privatized to save money and improve efficiency?
Walsh: Much of our public transit system is under-utilized, and our public transit system cannot efficiently serve residents who live off the beaten path or in more rural areas. The County should explore using private contractors to fill these gaps in a cost-effective manner.
4 ADEQUATE PUBLIC FACILITIES
Is a provision in the county’s recently adopted Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance that allows developers to build affordable housing in areas where a building moratorium is in place a responsible approach?
Walsh: No. This provision, although well-meaning, could end up being the exception that swallows the rule. I supported the recent revisions to the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance for the most part, although this amendment as well as some other provisions should be re-visited by the next Council.
5 SANCTUARY COUNTY
Is it appropriate for Howard to be a “sanctuary county” and prohibit county police from reporting detainees in the county detention center to federal authorities?
Walsh: Absolutely not. No county nor state should have its own foreign policy, and the whole concept of state nullification of federal laws was resolved with the Civil War. Moreover, some of the beneficiaries of such sanctuary legislation are involved in trans-national gang activity and human trafficking, and prey primarily on otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants. I fail to see the public policy reason for protecting such criminals. None of the advocates of the sanctuary legislation proposed in 2017 could cite any problems with how the County was treating undocumented immigrants.
6 ELLICOTT CITY
What efforts, if any, should Howard County take to install more flood-control systems in and around Ellicott City, and how many tax dollars should be involved?
Walsh: I believe the current administration has done a good job of addressing the issue, and identifying problems areas, I will wait until the total costs of flood-control are known before opining further.
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How would you respond to the opiod overdose epidemic? Should Howard expedite construction of an in-patient drug treatment center?
Walsh: As an emergency first step, all first responders should be equipped with naxalone (i.e., Narcan or Evzio). Only one hospital is located in Howard County, but Howard County residents are also served by at least six other nearby hospitals outside the County. It would be better for the experts in the health care field to evaluate the need for an in-patient drug treatment center rather than just starting throwing money at a problem so that we can feel better about “doing something”.
8 PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Has the county invested enough in public transportation projects, including the regional bus network and BikeHoward program?
Walsh: The County has invested plenty, although much of the money could be spent better. Residing in western Howard County, I see many roads favored by cyclists that are hazardous areas just waiting for accidents to happen. Where feasible, I would like to see bike lanes installed (particularly on upgrades) on certain roads to separate bicycle and motor vehicle traffic.
The state is recommending a constant yield property tax rate of 99 cents for the budget year ahead, below the current tax rate. Do you support reducing the tax rate to the constant yield level and adopting zero-based budgeting?
Walsh: Yes. Marylanders are already over-taxed, and every reduction in the already-heavy tax burden is welcome. Every agency should be required to justify their entire budget each year, not just their proposed increased spending.