Baltimore County Republican Councilman Wade Kach has been accused of grandstanding and fiscal recklessness by fellow council members and administration officials. Kach who is running for his second term, scoffs at the accusations.
At a meeting last month, just as the Baltimore County Council was about to pass next year’s budget, Councilman Kach lobbed a last minute grenade into the proceedings. He proposed reducing the county’s property tax rate by a penny, saying the county could afford it.
“A one penny reduction on the property tax is going to reduce county revenues by $8 million,” Kach said.
County Administrative Officer Fred Homan, usually a man of few words at council meetings, let Kach have it.
Homan said, “If I can comment on the proposal that was just made, I would like to make it very clear that it was absolutely irresponsible.”
Homan, who at that time was also serving as interim county executive, said it would send a message to the agencies that set bond ratings that the county deserves to lose its AAA status.
Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, a Democrat, piled on.
Bevins said, “Absolute grandstanding. Absolute grandstanding. Again.”
But Kach calls that accusation outrageous. Kach said his message that day, and in his campaign for reelection, is that the county is blowing money on special interests with deep pockets rather than on its citizens.
“And that indeed we can reduce taxes because they’re too high,” Kach said. “We shouldn’t be doing it.”
Two Republicans are challenging Kach for his 3rd District Council seat. One of them is Ed Hale Junior, who on a recent rush hour afternoon was standing at one corner of York Road and Seminary Avenue, holding a “Hale for County Council” sign and waving at the drivers whizzing by.
If Hale’s name rings a bell, his father was the CEO of First Mariner Bank and is the owner of the Baltimore Blast Soccer team. He agrees with Kach that the tax rate can be reduced, but Hale said the county budget needs to be cut first.
“You can’t give people a tax decrease when we don’t have enough coming in to satisfy our current debt service now,” Hale said.
Hale said after the election he will reveal where he would want to make budget cuts.
Both Hale and the third Republican in the race, Doug Zinn, say Kach is not delivering for the 3rd district, which runs up the center of the county from the Beltway to the Pennsylvania line. Much of it is rural, conservative, and Zinn says he believes that’s the issue.
“I suspect it’s politics because the council has been dominated by Democrats and our district is pretty dominantly Republican,” Zinn said.
Zinn called Kach a marginal councilman. Hale said the incumbent has a record of not getting along with his council colleagues, which in turn hurts people who live in the 3rd.
“Our infrastructure, parks, any kind of improvements, the other districts are getting, we’re not getting,” Hale said.
Kach countered he has delivered. He’s pushed to make county government more transparent and to preserve natural resources in the third. Kach said he’s running to complete an unfinished agenda.
“We need more recreational fields,” Kach said. “We also need a senior citizens center in Northern Baltimore County and a rec. center.”
Before winning his council seat, Kach served 40 years in the House of Delegates. Hale owns a trucking company in Rosedale. Zinn said he has more than 30 years of local and federal government management experience, most recently at the Baltimore County Health Department.