ELECTION CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE
Jim Walsh, Council District 5
Howard County Executive and Council Candidates
1. Please share your vision for fostering a pro-business environment, spurring job creation, and private investment.
The highest priorities for County government are education, public safety, roads and
infrastructure. Specifically for the business community, the best things that County
government can do for business are (1) provide adequate infrastructure, (2) impose clear, reasonable, consistent and universal regulations, and (3) get out of the way. To achieve these objectives requires fiscal responsibility. Howard County already has the highest average property tax bill in Maryland, and our local income tax is at the highest level allowed by law. I recommend allowing more commercial development by re-zoning more land from residential to commercial. Commercial and industrial development does not add to the burden of our schools, while providing a lucrative tax base. Additional funds can be directed towards the infrastructure improvements and enhancements necessary to attract additional business development via private investment
- Age: 61
- Residence: Woodbine
- Education: B.S., John Carroll University J.D., University of Toledo College of Law
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.
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.
JIM WALSH PROPOSES SCHOOL SAFETY INITIATIVE
March 27, 2018
Jim Walsh, Republican candidate for Howard County council, today announced a new proposal to address student safety in Howard County schools.
Walsh’s proposal calls for using best available technology practices, including bullet-resistant glass and doors, communications systems, alarms, security cameras that can be monitored by police, and other features designed to stop an attacker in their tracks.
The estimated cost for installing this technology in every Howard County school would be approximately $40 million. Walsh proposes to fund the security enhancements through private donations to a charitable foundation to be established.
“This is an issue that is too important to let partisan politics get in the way of a solution”, Walsh said. He also explained the advantage to Howard County residents of using a charitable foundation for funding: “Deductions for contributions to the foundation will not be limited by the recently-enacted tax act, which sets a cap on deductions for state and local taxes. With roughly 100,000 households in Howard County, full funding for implementing the proposal could be achieved if each household contributed $80 per year for five years.”
For more information, please contact Jim Walsh at:
Authority: Citizens for Jim Walsh, Teresa Sanders, Treasurer
A VISION, A PLAN
Howard County moved from the shadows of Baltimore City and County in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s with Jim Rouse’s vision for an inclusive community between the Baltimore and Washington D.C. corridors. Howard County has become recognized nationally for its quality of life by all who are fortunate to call it home.
It is important that the decisions made today provide for an orderly process as the county moves forward. The Howard County Council members serve as the County’s Zoning Board; thus, it is important that its members view the county as one county and make decisions that represent all residents and districts. Having served on the County Appeals Board for 10 years and as a member of the Charter Review Commission, I offer “A Vision, A plan” to you, the voters, if elected to represent District 5.
- TAXES - "Government funding" is your tax dollars. I will fight to hold the line on taxes, be a responsible steward, respectful of your hard-earned money, and work to reduce taxes wherever possible.
- PUBLIC SAFETY - Police, fire, and rescue services are a high priority and must be responsibly budgeted and staffed in order to meet the growing needs of the county.
- EDUCATION - Continue raising the educational standards for Howard County’s nationally top-ranked public schools to achieve the best results for your taxpayer dollars. Recruit and retain the best and brightest educators.
- OPEN SPACE – Preserve and maintain current open space and work to incorporate more open space with additional acquisition of land for community parks.
- DEVELOPMENT – Development continues to be a significant area of concern with residents. The county is currently faced with overcrowded schools at all levels, major traffic congestion, and an infrastructure insufficient to meet future demands. I support orderly and responsible development after adequate infrastructure has been built and ensure that future development does not outpace the county’s ability to adequately support it.
The Principles of Howard County Republicans:
1. In keeping with principles of our Founding Fathers, Howard County Republicans believe in individual
liberty, public safety, and support policies of limited taxation and responsible government.
2. We, as Republicans, support equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity for all.
3. Howard County Republicans respect the principles and values that have made our county a
prosperous and desirable place to live and raise a family.
4. Howard County Republicans support all family values that promote a strong cohesive community.
5. Howard County Republicans believe every child should have access to an excellent public education
that is challenging and attuned to the individual student to promote critical thinking, invention,
community cohesion, and a rewarding career.
6. Republicans believe in self-sufficiency while we recognize the need in Howard County for a limited
public safety net. We believe all people should be afforded the opportunity to improve their quality of
life through education, jobs, business opportunities, and community support.
7. Republicans support public policies that encourage economic growth, provide opportunities for
individuals to succeed, and promote local businesses in Howard County.
8. We support responsible growth and the preservation of open spaces while respecting the private
property rights of all Howard County citizens.
9. We believe that good Howard County Government collectively respects individualism and the
responsibilities of freedom while promoting community.
10. Republicans believe all should adhere to the rule of law.
There are 8 proposed amendments to CB1-2018 (APFO). Here's my take on all eight:
#1 - Limit the redistribution of residential units to final developments plans that are not using CEPPAs (community enhancements, programs and public amenities) - SUPPORT
#2 - Allow higher capacity limits for individual schools where such school's region is under 100% capacity or, in the case of high schools, the region is under 105% capacity - SUPPORT WITH MODIFICATION: The amendment limits the capacity increase to 5% for individual elementary and middle schools, but has no limit to the increase for high schools. I believe the 5% increase should apply to high schools as well.
#3 - Create a process to balance schools and affordable housing - OPPOSE: The process strikes me as quite subjective and potentially opens a huge loophole to APFO.
#4 - Increase re-testing provisions for school capacity from 3 years to 6 years - SUPPORT WITH MODIFICATION: I believe doubling the testing period in one feel swoop is too drastic. I support an increase to 4 years now.
#5 - Modify roads test provisions - MOSTLY OPPOSE: this amendment has four major components (1) increase the limit for the lowest level of review from 50 peak hour trips to 99 (NO); (2) decrease the area limits for traffic analysis from 2 miles to 1.5 miles (NO); (3) changing the intersections to be analyzed from signalized intersections to intersection of two major collector or higher level roads (NO); (4) develop a procedure where the DPZ may extend or reduce the traffic impact study area after a meeting with the developer (YES, BUT, there needs to be some process to allow community input in any such decision).
#6 - Delays application of the capacity test for high schools for 4 years - OPPOSE
#7 - Lowers school capacity limits for elementary schools to 100% (from 105%), middle schools to 105% (from 110%) and high schools to 110% (from 115%) - SUPPORT WITH MODIFICATION: I consistently testified in favor of racheting down the limits over time. I believe this provision should have an effective date 4 years in the future.
#8 - Include police, fire and health care in APFO analysis - SUPPORT WITH MODIFICATION: I have consistently testified in favor of expanding APFO to police and fire; they are provided by County government. Howard County General Hospital is not a government agency, and we should not cede government decisions to a non-governmental agency, so the health care component should be deleted.
I just got home from the Howard County Council legislative work session on the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. The first part of the work session was a review of the Economic and Fiscal Analysis report prepared by the Economic Development Authority https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/…/HoCo%20APFO%20Presentation%…..
The authors did not do a good job in explaining their report, and admitted to confusion about Howard County budgeting procedures in their fiscal analysis. Several Council members (including Greg Fox) and, later, Board of Education members, criticized the report for focusing on lost revenues without considering cost savings.