Quirk Elected Baltimore County Council Chairman

The Catonsville Democrat said the council will have to deal with another difficult budget but there's "no political will" for a tax increase.

Newly-elected Baltimore County Council Chairman Tom Quirk is looking forward to a more collegial relationship between the council and county executive and no new taxes in the coming year.

"I think 2013 is the year the county executive and the county council work together collaboratively," Quirk, Catonsville Democrat, said, who was elected unanimously by his colleagues.

The relationship between the council and County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has undergone considerable strain. Quirk along with then-Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond, Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, and Councilman David Marks all opposed a pension bill that would have ended the use of overtime in the calculation for pension benefits for some county employees.

The bill was part of an administration request. After the bill was tabled, the four councilmembers complained that Kamenetz retaliated by slashing budgets earmarked for road projects in their respective districts.

Quirk and Marks also drew the Kamenetz's ire when they questioned a $25 million loan from the county Employee Retirement System that would be used to build a new recycling facility.

Looking forward, Quirk said the council will have to continue to deal with difficult budgets.

"We knew when we were elected that the budget was going to be under significant pressure and that will continue," Quirk said. "For a long time the county got used to property taxes increasing because of the 4 percent Homestead Tax Credit and that's not going to happen. We need to figure out how to pay for the programs everyone wants."

That doesn't mean tax increases are on the horizon, he said.

"I don't see any political will from the county executive or county council to have a property or income tax increase," Quirk said.

One way of paying for those programs might come through the redevelopment of older neighborhoods.

Development will be a touchy issue for the freshman councilman who was linked to Steve Whalen in emails that were part of the state prosecutor's case against the Catonsville developer last week. Whalen pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court last week to five counts of violating state campaign finance laws for funneling $7,500 to Quirk through his personal trainer, an employee and a friend in so-called illegal straw donations.

Quirk cooperated with the prosecutor and was not charged with any wrongdoing but the emails highlighted a relationship between the developer's fundraising efforts for Quirk and the councilman's oversight of projects proposed by Whalen.

Quirk, who is often referred to as the most liberal member of the council, downplayed some concerns that he'll push a political agenda once now that he's chairman.

Last year Quirk sponsored a transgender anti-discrimination bill. Within weeks of being sworn in, Quirk sponsored legislation expanding the speed camera program in the county.

"I'd definitely say I'm a proud progressive but I'm also a very very fiscally careful," Quirk said. "Democrats have an obligation to be fiscally responsible because we believe government can help people. We have to make sure every tax dollar is spent as best as we can."

FIFA January 09, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Dean Tippett January 09, 2013 at 10:15 PM
Hey FIFA! You know you cab't revoke my right to vote just because I disagree with you and your silly statements. I read the statement of facts ans it sure seems that Mr, Quirk had to know what was going on. If he was suspicious as he should have been then he could have called the "donors" up and ask how it came to be that Mr. Whalen had their three identical checks, He knew what Mr. Whalen was vying for and did submit the PUD soon after those checks.
FIFA January 09, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Dean, a sad thing about our democracy, regardless of one's literacy, you get a vote. Founders might have had it right?
Chillin January 09, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Hooray for me. I always get the answers correct when they have no prize attached.
RARE MARYLAND INDEPENDENT January 10, 2013 at 01:19 AM
The Baltimore County Council elects the person who best represents their morals and ethics as their Chairman. Tom Quirk, with his signature legislation of transgender rights and more speed cameras under his belt and fresh from his main contributor and supporter admitting to fraudulent campaign contributions has been elected Chairman of the Council. Did the County Council watch the "stop snichin" video before they confirmed Mr. Quirk?


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