Franchot’s Health Woes Delay Public Works Board’s Action on Property Tax Rate
M aryland Comptroller Peter Franchot’s bout with a kidney stone last week was not only unpleasant for him personally, but it also delayed establishing the state’s property tax rate for the coming year.
Franchot (D), a Takoma Park resident, was admitted to the emergency room last Sunday after feeling some “pain and discomfort,” according to his spokesman, Joseph Shapiro.
The kidney stone was determined to be too small to break up and passed naturally Monday, Shapiro said. But it took Franchot several days to recover.
His time away from the office included missing Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Public Works, a three-member panel whose duties include establishing Maryland’s state property tax rate annually.
The board, whose other members are Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D), proceeded with most of its other business, which included a $10.3 million purchase of an environmentally sensitive tract of land near Cambridge on the Eastern Shore.
But action on the property tax was delayed because of an apparent difference between O’Malley and Kopp. O’Malley wants to keep the rate at 11.2 cents per $100 in assessed value. With the state facing a $1.5 billion budget deficit next year, Kopp has suggested that the rate should be raised.
The issue will be resolved at a special meeting Thursday. Shapiro said Franchot is inclined to side with the governor despite his view that state leaders need to deal with the budget shortfall.
Franchot, meanwhile, was back at work Friday and planned to be “out and about over the weekend,” Shapiro said.
— John Wagner
O’Malley to Plant Trees Today
A multi-day focus on the environment led Gov. Martin O’Malley to the “Poultry House of the Future” on the Eastern Shore on Thursday. It sent him to a state park overlooking the Chesapeake Bay on Friday.
And today, O’Malley (D) will plant trees with middle-schoolers in Annapolis.
The governor is scheduled to plant 10 trees with students from the J. Albert Adams Academy, an alternative school for youths with behavioral challenges, and from the science club of Bates Middle School. Students there are known as the “Science Nuts.”
At the poultry house, University of Maryland Eastern Shore personnel gave O’Malley a primer about the more environmentally friendly future of disposal of poultry “fecal matter.”
O’Malley, in asking questions, repeatedly used a more delicate term: “stuff.”
— John Wagner
Governor to Talk Up StateStat
Gov. Martin O’Malley will get another chance tomorrow to show off the statistics-driven accountability initiative he developed as mayor of Baltimore that he is implementing on the state level as StateStat.
O’Malley (D) is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a forum, titled “Governing by the Number: The Promise of Data-Driven Policymaking in the Information Age,” hosted by the Washington-based Center for American Progress.
Among those scheduled to appear at the event are a couple of Clinton administration alumni: John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff who is now president and chief executive of the Center for American Progress; and Sally Katzen, former deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.
In Baltimore, O’Malley used CitiStat to hold agency heads accountable for a wide range of trends, such as overtime spending, time spent to fill potholes and missed trash-pickup complaints.
Since his arrival in Annapolis in January, O’Malley has been applying StateStat to a number of state departments and using the concept to measure Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts.
— John Wagner