Cumberland Times-News

Local News

December 10, 2012

Taxes and fees on minds of residents

Public speaks to local legislators

CUMBERLAND — Members of the public had the chance to make their views known to local legislators face-to-face Monday night, and they had a clear message: they told members of the District 1 legislative delegation they don’t like taxes and they don’t like added fees tacked on by state government.

“I want to know where my money goes. ... I’m going to have to quit flushing my commode,” said Edward Friend, one of the local citizens who spoke at the pre-legislative meeting of the delegation. The meeting was designed to allow members of the public to voice their questions and concerns before the General Assembly session begins in January.

Friend was speaking about the so-called flush tax, designed to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay, which doubled last year. Friend said he didn’t mind paying some to help clean up the bay, because he’s a fisherman. What bothers him is that the tax keeps increasing and the fund is raided to pay for other state programs.

“There’s no question the governor has raided every possible fund,” said Delegate Wendell Beitzel.

The meeting took place in the auditorium at Allegany College of Maryland. Legislators present were Sen. George Edwards and delegates LeRoy Myers Jr., Kevin Kelly and Beitzel.

Friend wasn’t the only one upset about taxes.

“We are unhappy about proposals to increase the gas tax ... about increased government spending and increased taxes,” said Dr. Jean Bialas, who said she was a  leader in the local Tea Party movement.

Bialas also said she was upset by the amount rural residents were effectively paying to subsidize mass transit in urban areas.

All the members of the delegation agreed to fight new taxes.

“We are taxed enough and can’t afford any more, I do not support it (the gas tax),” said Kelly. Edwards said he’s long believed there need to be changes in the way the state funds mass transit.

Most states have a special mass transit tax, aimed at those areas that use mass transit the most, Edwards said.

Raising taxes on things like alcohol and cigarettes and other sales taxes, sends shoppers to other states and kills Maryland business, said Owen Dorsey.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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