Petition Against Calvert County Commissioners' Request for Bond Authority
Keep Calvert Country is asking taxpayers of Calvert County to join us in opposing the Board of County Commissioners’ request to increase its bond authority by $67,000,000. In particular, we are opposed to the issuance of any bond authority that would allow the funding of the proposed County office building to be located on the site of the Armory property in Prince Frederick. Read an article about it here.
Our opposition is for the following reasons:
Why were our taxes raised? In June 2017, this Board of County Commissioners increased the income tax rate from 2.8% to 3.0%, and raised the real property tax rate from $0.892 per $100 to $0.952 per $100. At that time, the Commissioners made compelling arguments that the tax increase was necessary to bolster the “rainy day” fund and to avoid cutting essential services. Now, in addition to raising our taxes, they are unnecessarily putting us and our children in debt.
Why Not Use Dominion Funds? The County has already begun receiving money from Dominion and will continue to receive approximately $55 million total per year in tax revenue once the facility is operational. The new office building could be funded using the Dominion money after proper study has been completed and citizens have had an opportunity to comment.
Lack of Citizen Involvement in Decisions Regarding development of the Prince Frederick Town Center: The Commissioners have continued to put forth proposals and approve Zoning Ordinance changes that are not consistent with the 1989 Prince Frederick Master Plan, rather than first updating the 29-year old Plan. Doing so would continue the updating process which was begun in 2013 and would give the citizens the opportunity to determine the future of the town center.The current Prince Frederick Zoning Ordinance states the following concerning the Old Town District (the location of the Courthouse): “This district is intended to remain the center of County government”. (Z.O. 35)The current Master Plan also includes Economic Development Action 3, which states:. “Continue to concentrate government services in old Prince Frederick within the immediate vicinity of the Courthouse in order to help maintain and expand the area as a center of business activity.” (M.P. 14)
Increased Debt: This year's proposed Capital Improvement Budget will increase the County’s debt from $100 million to $270 million. Below are 2 slides from staff’s February 13, 2018 budget presentation.
By contrast, last year’s graph showed a substantial decrease in our debt (from staff's February 14, 2017 presentation):
The current (2010) Comprehensive Plan states, under sustainability issues, that the County is to “Meet the needs of current generations without overburdening future generations.” (Pg. 104)
No fiscal analysis has been conducted: The current (2010) Comprehensive Plan states, under Action Item #IV-22: “Require a fiscal analysis to be prepared prior to providing financial assistance to any commercial or residential project.”
When he first proposed that the County offices be moved to the Armory site (on April 25, 2017), Commissioner Slaughenhoupt indicated that the purpose of the proposed office building was to provide increased foot traffic which would support the Armory Square development. He stated:
“I would make a recommendation that we make a commitment … that we designate our future plans in our capital improvement program of consolidating the County staff to the location of the Armory at Armory Square, and in doing that, I believe that by us making this declaration of some sort really gives all the tools that are necessary for our partners, the Peterson Group, when they travel to Las Vegas next week to align potential suitors to help bring Armory Square into reality.”
Does Not Comply with the 5-Year Strategic Economic Development Plan: The 5-year Strategic Economic Development Plan recommends radically accelerating development of the Town Centers by investing in infrastructure:
“We recommend that policymakers make it a high priority to accelerate development of town centers, including by supporting local resident entrepreneurs. The tax base created by the expansion of activities at Cove Point provides the capacity to offer tax and training incentives and to invest in infrastructure to more aggressively develop town centers.”
However, the FY 2019-FY 2024 Capital Improvement Plan shows NO funding for town centers (see slide from staff's February 13, 2018 presentation below). A 2013 traffic report by the State Highway Administration indicates that numerous intersections within the Prince Frederick Town Center will soon be at a failing level (7 intersections in the morning and 9 intersections in the evening). Rather than building a new office building, the Commissioners should be including funds to improve those intersections, which would be more beneficial to a greater number of citizens who drive through Prince Frederick daily.