Op-Ed: Gorilla Loose In Talbot County by Dan Watson

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The Talbot County Council and its various Boards and Commissions will continue to deal with important issues in coming months. These include a proposed “Overlay District” (which override zoning restrictions), implementing short-term vacation rental (“STR”) procedures, beginning enforcement of the new noise ordinance, revised financing plans for sewer extensions, and other matters that the public very much cares about.

But any citizen who really wants to understand what’s happening with Talbot County government—the 800-pound gorilla in the room—should watch a video clip from the January 22 County Council meeting. For almost an hour the Council agonized over—and then rejected for lack of funds–3 modest budget requests that the prior Council expressly carried over from last year in hope and expectation that new funds would enable passage.  

One especially notable item was an important public safety matter: hiring a new assistant states attorney, a position approved back in 2015…but for which funding disappeared. This would be Talbot’s first new prosecutor in three decades (!), a period that witnessed an enormous increase in the caseload. Another item seemed mundane—replacing some of the 7-year-old computers heavily used by the public in the Easton library–but the Council could not come up with even $9,540 to make it happen last year, and still cannot.   

The Council will soon begin work on our 2019-20 budget. Look at this preview and you will know it is going to be a painful process.  The decisions to be made are not just abstractions, but for better or worse will affect Talbot citizens in a myriad of ways in coming years. Not sexy, but the budget is a huge issue—certainly not less important than zoning or sewer lines or anything else that from time to time gets us riled up.  

(To watch the climactic public safety portion of the discussion, google “Talbot Council County Video,” click here and view the video for January 22, 2019, and scroll to 1:53:00.  The entirety of the discussion began at 1:22:27.)

Dan Watson is the Chair of the Bipartisan Coalition of Talbot County

 

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