What are your views on the use of tax-increment financing as an incentive for private building and redevelopment projects, including remodeling blighted village centers in Columbia?
Dunbar: TIF’s will continue to have an adverse impact on taxpayers and their ability to build schools fast enough to keep pace with development. No, I do not support TIFs (tax payer dollars) for development by wealthy developers in Howard County. Ho Co TIF’s provide free tax payer owned land for the developer. Over the next 30 or more years the TIF pays for the construction costs of the project. Once the project is utilized the developers receive the rental and/or various management fees. Lastly, once the TIF payments are completed, the developer freely owns both the land and project all tax payer funded.
With rising concern over school safety, should county police officers or sheriff’s deputies be assigned to all public schools, along with additional screening methods, such as metal detectors, student pat-downs and clear backpacks?
Dunbar: I am not sure that Howard County can afford the cost of having a police officer at roughly 80 schools. A major problem with growth is it places a heavy tax burden on the tax payer who must provide more policemen, firemen, teachers etc. with health care and retirement benefits, infrastructure etc.
Are there any county government services that should be privatized to save money and improve efficiency?
Is a provision in the county’s recently adopted Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance that allows developers to build affordable housing in areas where a building moratorium is in place a responsible approach?
Dunbar: Building moratoriums must be enforced to prevent further over crowding in our public schools. “Slow Growth” and “Children First” policies must be established in Howard County. Roughly 9,000 students must be redistricted because our present county council/zoning board and executives have for the past 14 years been unable to say no to the developers. We have a major redistricting problem in Howard County. HCPSS that once was number one in MD is now only rated 5th or 6th.
Is it appropriate for Howard to be a “sanctuary county” and prohibit county police from reporting detainees in the county detention center to federal authorities?
Dunbar: I am not sure we need that designation since our officers are not required to report detainees in our detention facilities to Federal authorities.
What efforts, if any, should Howard County take to install more flood-control systems in and around Ellicott City, and how many tax dollars should be involved?
Dunbar: Flood control systems must be installed to protect Ellicott City what ever the costs.
How would you respond to the opiod overdose epidemic? Should Howard expedite construction of an in-patient drug treatment center?
Dunbar: I would explore the use of facilities that are underutilized, i.e. at Springfield, and consider benefits of partnering with other counties to mitigate costs while fulfilling treatment needs.
Has the county invested enough in public transportation projects, including the regional bus network and BikeHoward program?
The state is recommending a constant yield property tax rate of 99 cents for the budget year ahead, below the current tax rate. Do you support reducing the tax rate to the constant yield level and adopting zero-based budgeting?
Dunbar: I need to get some questions answered before taking a position on this issue.