Last week, we gave a hearty thumbs up to County Executive Jan Gardner’s initiatives aimed at cutting the county’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and ridding them completely by 2050. She’d use a $3.7 million one-time allotment to begin this initiative which also includes adding eight new employees.
What’s not to like about taking steps to help the environment? But we also pointed out that this is not a one-time investment. Spending surpluses (or a fund balance, as the exec calls it) are typically used to pay for non-recurring expenses, not new initiatives that will require additional spending down the line. So we offered that caveat in our support.
On Tuesday, members of the County Council expressed those same concerns about the way Gardner is going about funding this initiative, saying this proposal would add $1 million to future year budgets.
“I don’t understand why this has to come before us now, in this manner, as opposed to just going through the normal budget process, which we’re about to kick off in a few months,” Councilman Steve McKay said during the meeting. Council Vice President Michael Blue and Councilman Phil Dacey shared similar views.
We’re always going to be wary of one-time funding of initiatives that turn into long-term spending plans. That’s how government spending grows and, especially during these times, we can’t afford to let it be that way.
This said, we still like the idea but we hope that we’ll get a chance to see a broader plan of how this initiative will be funded in future years.
Speaking of environmental initiatives, there’s a pretty cool one that was started recently by students at Middletown Elementary School.
The Lunches Out of Landfills program that kicked off last week at Middletown is the idea of fifth-grader Quinn Wagner. Along with teacher Cari Wolf, the school is learning a lesson in environmental sustainability.
Every day at the end of lunch, students are paying more attention to how they discard their lunch waste. There’s one container for composting organic materials, one for liquids and another for wrappers and other items. Student volunteers help to make sure all goes well.
Before the program started, the school would have as much as eight trash cans full of garbage that would end up in the school trash and eventually a landfill. With the program in place for less than two weeks, they’re down to one can.
The program has been so successful so quickly that other grades are asking to be included in the project.
It’s quite a life lesson for these students, one that we hope other schools will consider adopting.
Earlier this week, we told the story of Donald Harper, a Mount Airy resident and retired Montgomery County police officer, who was receiving care at Frederick Health Hospital.
Harper was scheduled for surgery but found out the hospital was low on his type of blood, O negative. While there was enough blood for his surgery, Harper and his son Craig became concerned about the blood shortage. They decided to do something about it.
For months now, the American Red Cross has been trying to get the word out about a national blood shortage. The levels of the national blood inventory during September and October were at the lowest in more than a decade.
Trying to help out, the younger Harper, also a retired police officer, reached out to the Frederick Police Department to see if his brothers and sisters in blue could help. And help they did.
FPD told its members about the Harpers’ need on Sunday and almost immediately, officers lined up to give blood. In the following days, FPD and the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services scheduled a blood drive competition between agencies to respond to the national shortage.
It turns out giving blood to a specific person was more complicated than they thought, but that doesn’t make this story any less extraordinary.
“Whatever they donate now,” Craig Harper said, “it’s not going to go to my dad. But that could be anybody’s parents.”
We’d encourage everyone to help out if they are able. To do so, go to redcrossblood.org.
There’s general consensus that the location chosen for the new Frederick Police Department headquarters is the right decision. Unfortunately, a project of this magnitude will cost millions to purchase the property, develop design plans and finally retrofit the four-story, 65,000-square-foot building at 100 E. All Saints St.
For that reason, we were disappointed to hear this week from delegation members representing Frederick County who said it doesn’t look good for us to get money included in the state’s upcoming capital budget.
What does that mean? It potentially means another year of not getting money from the state for such a critical project that impacts Maryland’s second largest city.
We don’t think this will delay the project from its planned 2024 completion, but that doesn’t make that pill any easier to swallow.
Frederick taxpayers deserve state support for this, and we hope someone will make that happen.
Yeas and nays is a weekly feature of quick-hit opinions from The Frederick News-Post’s editorial board. Send your suggestions to email@example.com.