Press Release: Whisler Response to BC $138 Million Budget Gap

Our County Auditor, Mary Allen, released a budget analysis last Friday, and the results were not good.  It seems we’ve managed to create a $138 million dollar gap.  Bryan Sears explains more in a recent article, and below you’ll find Steve’s response.  Well put, Steve.  This is why we need you.

“Unfortunately, the public has become accustomed to terms like budget deficits, excessive spending, and prospects of furloughs and layoffs. Many Baltimore County residents and employees are very disappointed to hear about the $152 million budget gap for 2010. When one considers our county’s annual operating budget is $1.6 billion, a $152 million shortfall is a 9.5% budget gap. Although County Spokesman, Don Mohler, says that the administration is not in a panic, they should have specific answers ready now for how they will address this important issue.

Citizens should be troubled about a recent statement to a reporter by Council Chairman John Olszewski who said, “I know about as much as you do … I’m wondering how this is going to be addressed.” He should be embarrassed to suggest that a news reporter knows about as much as he does on how to address such a large budget shortfall. Although the County Executive is charged to create the budget, the Council is responsible to prioritize and cut unnecessary items. The Council leader’s comments may leave some to suggest that he and his Progressive colleagues are asleep at the wheel.

He and others on the Council must exercise oversight of the county budget, challenge the County Executive and Department Heads to be efficient and innovative, and eliminate unnecessary spending. Citizens elect Council members to be good stewards of our taxes and have reasonable plans in place to ensure government reacts swiftly to challenging environmental variables. Perhaps I am relying too much upon my background as a retired naval officer and business executive, but our officials should have contingency plans ready for such a crisis.

One can understand a local or state government’s slow reaction to unpredictable circumstances, but Maryland and Baltimore County have been in a recession with extraordinarily high unemployment for over a year. The Council leadership should have some idea how to address a 9.5% budget gap. The problem may be that leaders do not want to make such tough choices during an election year.

A few months ago, I voiced my concern of a looming financial crisis to Councilman Sam Moxley at a Catonsville Chamber of Commerce breakfast. I mentioned that our public debt is projected to hit $1.4 billion by 2014, our county employee pension fund has lost nearly 25% of its value in just a decade, and we currently have 148 active employees supporting the growing pension obligation for every 100 retirees. He brushed aside my concerns, suggesting that our county is in terrific financial condition with a AAA bond rating.

AAA bond ratings are great if you want cheap alternatives to borrow money and finance debt. I can only hope that our county officials do not follow the lead of Progressives in Annapolis and Washington DC whose model is to continue unbridled spending and borrowing, and leave it to future generations to pay the bill. When will Progressive Democrats ever think of the long-term impact of their actions? The irresponsible spending and continued game of “make believe” are setting the stage for huge tax increases at every level of government after the 2010 elections.

Remember the term “checks and balances” we learned in grade school? There are no checks and balances in Towson, Annapolis, or Washington DC. Instead, there is one-party rule at every level, which has created significant debts and generous salaries, pensions, perks, and benefits for part-time politicians. Nearly two decades of a go-along-get-along County Council in Towson has created bloated budgets and a mentality of let’s spend now and figure out how to pay for it later.

Because 2010 is an election year, my bet is that liberals and those whose pockets they fleece for votes and campaign contributions will continue to pretend and “make believe” that everything is okay. Instead, they should do what we’ve hired them to do – make tough decisions now and prevent an even bigger financial catastrophe later. Will the rampant spending ever end?”

Steve Whisler is retired Navy Combat veteran who currently serves on the board of directors of Maryland’s largest credit union. During the past decade, Steve was a civic activist for local government issues, a gubernatorial appointee to a state commission, and president of one of the largest community groups Baltimore County. He is a Catonsville resident and Republican candidate for Baltimore County Council’s 1st District Seat.

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