Should county government incentivize growth in the county through zoning and, if so, what types of growth (residential, commercial, high density, etc.) should the county focus on and why? What steps should the county take to comply with state-mandated planning requirements?
Mathias: Carroll County is very commercial in its day to day zoning. This will continue as Westminster, the county seat has severe water restrictions on future growth. This affects both residential and the density as well. Future zoning will be more difficult.
What is your vision/strategy for economic development in the county. What incentives do you think are appropriate to lure businesses/employers to Carroll?
Mathias: We need to retain and assist local businesses first, focusing on job creation. Growing local business is our priority. Carroll County is already centrally located which assists luring businesses. We also need to continue to balance our support for agricultural preservation with the state. We have the largest program with over 70,000 acres with a goal of 100,000.
Approximately 47 percent of the county’s proposed fiscal 2019 budget goes toward Carroll County Public Schools. Do you believe this number is appropriate, too low or too high? Should there be a set percentage of the budget dedicated to public education each year?
Mathias: Yes, it is too low and it has contributed to the BOE shortfall of over $6.4 million dollars. I want the county to fund the Board of Education request regardless of the funding percentage which could correct the current funding imbalance. Education is the most basic taxpayer supported service and like public safety has to be addressed in every budget cycle.
Do you believe existing revenue sources are sufficient to effectively cover necessary expenditures in Carroll County? Currently a supermajority (4-1 vote) is required to raise taxes. Do you think that is appropriate or should only a simple majority (3-2 vote) be required?
Mathias: Yes. Carroll County Government has a “PRIORITY” problem. A simple majority is enough to address budget and funding questions. The current board has failed to prioritize what gets the money, this alone shows their politics and lack of success after four years.
Do you support or oppose a move from the commissioner form of government to charter government?
Mathias: I currently support the commissioner form of government. Our future will need to recognize our loss of taxpayers to southern Pennsylvania. Surprisingly, they return each day to work in the county and congesting our roads and services. Both the state and county tax coffers are losing both property and income taxes, along with students from our school population. This is our biggest regional problem.
Enabling legislation in the Maryland General Assembly gives county government authority over fire and emergency services. What do you see as the best path forward for emergency services in Carroll County?
Mathias: The county has mostly volunteer fire companies with paid ambulance drivers. The county has supported training centers and some direct assistance like equipment. The need in the future will call for a professional career track that allows for paid advancement with benefits, including retirement.
What do you believe county government’s role should be in combating the opioid epidemic?
Mathias: I serve on the county health departments, Local Health Improvement Coalition, which is coordinating the county’s day to day response to the opioid crisis. I am also serving on the Cancer Coalition Subcommittee as a cancer survivor. Carroll County has many substance abusers between 20-40 years of age. We are using all community resources to address the treatment with the resident population.