Voices From The Readers
Explanation Of Decision Needed
(The following was addressed to the Board of Worcester County Property Tax Assessment with a copy forwarded to this paper for publication.)
Approximately seven months ago, I appealed the increased property assessment on my home in Berlin. I recently received a reply after all that time indicating that my appeal was rejected. There was no explanation for this decision.
Since the time we originally purchased our property in 2002, our property market value was estimated at approximately $144,000. Your new assessment notice puts the current value at $333,000 in 2010, which amounts to an increase of $189,000 or 131 percent. I do realize that there was a strong economic boom from the time of the original purchase until late 2006, and the real estate market values in my development increased significantly in value during that time. Speculators, Realtors and developers took full advantage of this boom and sold properties for windfall profits. Those property owners who love this community and have made these properties their permanent homes are now being burdened with the increased tax assessments based on these previous sales. Unfortunately, over the last 18 months, there has been a drastic drop in property values and sales throughout our country, and in fact between April '07 and April '08 the national home price index has fallen by 15.3 percent. This information is taken from the Standard and Poor's/Case Shiller home price index, which indicates that this is the fastest rate drop in home prices since this statistic was first compiled in the year 2000.
There are homes in my development that have been on the market for many months and simply cannot sell. They will certainly not sell for the new assessment values the state has indicated on the assessment notice. With the exception of those properties in my community with bay views, there are no properties that have recently sold over the last 18 months that are consistent with the new assessment value that has been assigned to my property.
If I am wrong, I would ask that you send me a report on all recent real estate transactions/sales in the Bay Vista/Mystic Harbour development. This should include a true and sufficient representative sample of properties that are similar in structure and location to my property, and not including the bay view homes. I fully expected that my first appeal rejection notice would have included this statistic, and other determining factors, in the seven months it took to send me a reply to my appeal.
Our country is currently experiencing a radical economic down swing. With gas and food prices going through the roof, and the real estate market on the verge of collapse, it is going to take many years for a recovery. Now is not the time for our state to increase property assessment values that are completely unreasonable. I know you have a very difficult job in reviewing these appeals, but I am appealing to you to carefully review my second appeal and render a fair decision based on the facts I have presented. In rendering your decision, I would be very grateful if you would give me the courtesy of including explanations and statistics to justify your findings. Thank you in advance for consideration in this matter.
Joseph and Eileen Trombetta
Shame On Officials
I was shocked by recent articles quoting some of our honorable County Commissioners.
As a resident and tax payer of Worcester County, I believe Mr. Shockley, Mrs. Boggs and Mrs. Busick need to be schooled on a few facts about Worcester County Public Schools. It is important that the tax payers of Worcester County be aware of facts verses negative comments and half truths that were blurted out at a public meeting that were inappropriate and unwarranted.
According to our state's formula, Worcester County is the wealthiest county in Maryland. This formula doesn't consider that approximately 32 percent of the students in this county receive free or reduced lunches. As a result, our local school system receives a minimal amount of funding from the state. The majority of funding comes from the taxpayers of Worcester County. Funding for our school system used to consume more then 50 percent of the overall county's budget. Over the past 10 years, our county has grown tremendously.
Approximately 6,750 students are enrolled in our schools. I am a parent with children in three different Worcester County Public Schools. I am fortunate to see first hand how this school system works. The schools are a place where faculty, staff, volunteers and local business partners from all over the county come together to educate and provide necessary resources for our children. The local school system employs approximately 1,100 staff members. These paid employees of the school system wear many hats and have raised thousands of dollars for our schools and other charities around our local community. I am only one of the more then 1,100 volunteers that assist in the schools throughout the year. I represent only one of the 773 business partners that assist the schools volunteering time and donations throughout the school year. I represent only one family belonging to my children's school PTA.
All families and businesses have been affected in some way by current economic times. Dr. Andes and the Worcester County Board of Education drafted a letter to the County Commissioners in November of 2007 informing them of possible overruns in the 2007-2008 school budget due to the rise in energy costs and the extra costs to special education because of an unanticipated need for essential equipment and added personnel that was mandated by law they provide. I commend Andes and the Worcester County Board of Education for shrinking the $991,500 overrun down to $385,000 by using money from other departments to offset the costs of the overrun before bringing their final request to the County Commissioners.
The public scolding given by Mr. Shockley at a time when the school board had clearly exhausted its options was inappropriate and unwarranted. The officials of our county are elected by the taxpayers of Worcester County. Mr. Shockley, Mrs. Boggs and Mrs. Busick have been trusted with our tax dollars and should act as responsible gatekeepers. As a parent, volunteer, business partner of Worcester County Public Schools as well as tax payer of Worcester County I support and expect our elected officials to allocate the funds needed to operate our school system. I am also requesting that the voters of Worcester County take note of the public scolding and 4-2 vote in desperate economic times when the school board requested help. As a voter and tax payer, I will not forget during the next election.
Wendy A. Di Buo
Slots Will Help Area
I am puzzled by the opposition to slots at the Ocean Downs track a facility, which attracts folks to the area and will certainly benefit from slots.
Controlled gambling has benefited senior citizens in Pennsylvania by providing funds for Medicad and virtually free public transportation on the railroad and city transit like Philadelphia.
Since the track would benefit from slots, it would be prudent to incorporate a provision regarding the resolution to the fact the Ocean Downs owner will provide the necessary Route 589 improvements the Maryland highway dept plans to do within the property limits. The rest of Route 589 will follow in line in due time. "A foot at a time" is an excellent strategy to save taxpayer funds.
Reasons Against Slots
When some Gibbon of the future writes, 'The Decline and Fall of the American Republic,' one chapter will be 'The Spread of State Gambling.' But you can thin that chapter. On Nov..4, you can vote against slots in Maryland. There are at least eight reasons.
-- The slotsocrats will buy the state. They will be the largest contributor to political campaigns. This has happened in every state that has legalized slots.
-- Slots will start at horsetracks and end up in every 7-Eleven. It's the folly of inviting the fox into the chicken house and telling him he can have only one chicken.
-- Marylanders now spend $309 million a year on slots in nearby states. If slots win on Nov. 4, Marylanders will spend $1.4 billion - nearly five times as much.
-- Slots at horse tracks make racing a small side show. Horse breeders in Maryland agree that purses can be financed by means other than slots.
-- Slots will absorb money people now spend on both necessities and discretionaries. All the schools need is poor parents putting money into slots rather than their kids.
-- As slots cause people to spend less on goods and services subject to sales and other taxes, the state will have to raise or create taxes to make up the lost revenue.
-- Slots are the crack cocaine, the most addictive form, of gambling. The bill admits this by allocating $6 million of slots revenue to treat the increased addiction.
-- Slotsocrats greatly fear the voters will discover the slots experience of other states, more violent and financial crime, more domestic violence and child abuse.
Slotsocrats are a pack of cunning corporate predators like Enron, Haliburton, Blackwater, Wal-Mart and BG&E. Voting for slots is like the sheep voting for the wolf.
James A. Hoage
A Good Deed Noted
From time to time, a person comes across a 'good deed' that, in my estimation warrants recognition. Bear with me just a moment and I'll relate such a 'good deed' that came to my attention just this morning.
My usual trip on Saturday morning to the Montego Bay Shopping Mall was just one of those early jaunts that hopefully beats the crush of back-ups and cars on the highway. This morning was indeed one that I take special time to write to you about. In front of Hair We R beauty shop in the mall, I noticed a fresh bowl of water and a sign saying 'Water for the Pooch' clearly displayed on the front of the salon. Imagine. This blistering hot weather someone is kind enough to give thought to the visitor's pets and furnish fresh water. I spoke to Jack Schaeffer, the owner and proprietor and he told me he changes the water several times during the day and yes folks walking their pets do indeed avail their pets of this kind and thoughtful gesture.
If for nothing more, I thought I'll be willing to bet few and far between folks never give such a kind and noble deed a thought as to how hot it must be for pets and how refreshing it is for someone to think of them. No question at all, Jack ranks high on my 'good guys' list and I'll carry a banner for him any day of the week. Thank you Jack.
Bring On Slots
As a resident of Worcester County since 1977 and a former year-round resident of Ocean City, from 1977-1997, I am always glad to hear the opinions of elected officials and a handful of business people in Ocean City.
I read the opinion of Comptroller Peter Franchot and a handful of Ocean City business people in The Dispatch this past week.
Elected officials are chosen or not chosen by registered voters. Being a member of the Red Knights, Elks Club, Moose Club and former member of the O.C. Lions Club, I do get an opportunity to speak with many registered voters of Worcester County.
The majority want slots at the Ocean Downs racetrack and at all the nonprofit organizations.
Although there was a chosen one-year delay, I do believe we will get the slots in all the nonprofit organizations in Worcester County.
It will help all the clubs here with their donations to worthy causes just as it has helped nonprofit clubs in Wicomico County for many years and guess what? There are no casinos in Wicomico County.
As for Ocean Downs Racetrack, it is not close to Ocean City and you know it. The slots will secure jobs at the racetrack and the buses will come there instead of Delaware. Slots at the racetrack and private member clubs in Worcester County will never hurt the 'family image' of Ocean City and you know that too.
Laws Not Enforced
Between Route 50 and the Coastal Hwy. along Route 90, there are three signs that proclaim 'Mandatory Headlight Use Area'. Additionally, there are two signs that advise 'Use Headlights Avoid the Fine'.
Still, I counted 40 percent (27 cars) of the traffic in the opposite direction with neither their headlights or parking lights (a cute ploy) turned on. I have observed this phenomenon for several years.
The state and county police have consistently exhibited no intention to enforce this matter. They may well have more important things to do.
Under these circumstances, the honorable thing to do is to remove these signs. It fosters disrespect to blatantly advertise restrictions using words like 'mandatory' and then blithely let people drive as they like.
If it is of no real consequence either way, remove the signs. Do not expose the public to a sudden and unexpected whim of enforcement when they have become accustomed to negligence over a period of years. Otherwise, announce the onset of enforcement and stick to it.