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Md. Co. Execs: Business tax or feds for Purple Line funding?

Tuesday - 10/18/2011, 11:32am  ET

CountyExecutives.jpg
County executives Ike Leggett and Rushern Baker. (WTOP/Paul D. Shinkman)

Ask the Executives

County executives Ike Leggett, of Montgomery County, and Rushern Baker, of Prince George's County, speak to WTOP's Mark Segraves.

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WASHINGTON -- County executives Ike Leggett, from Montgomery County, and Rushern Baker, from Prince George's County, were on "Ask the Executive" with Mark Segraves on Tuesday.

The executives discussed the plan for a Purple Line addition to Metro, for which the counties would not be able to pay themselves. Leggett proposed a public/private partnership that would generate revenue from businesses interested in developing near the new stations.

Baker said he is considering that option, among other ways to raise money.

The pair agreed federal funds would be necessary for this project, and that a gas tax is necessary to generate revenue for transportation projects throughout their counties. Leggett expects these projects will cost up to $2 billion.

Leggett also said traffic in the county is going to get worse before it gets better. Roughly 1 million patients annually are expected at the new Bethesda Naval Center, for which the county does not expect to create any additional parking spaces. The executive encourages, instead, patients and employees to turn to mass transit.

Listen to the full audio of the show at right, and check out this live blog:

10:46 a.m., speaking about the county attorneys:

Baker: I nominated someone I think will come in and shape the office, who is very well qualified. I think the disagreement with the Council comes not from the nomination, but with the council executive.

She's already begun straightening out the office and bringing in some good people.

One of my first acts as county executive was signing a check for more than $3 million for a suit we lost to a local church.

10:44 a.m., speaking about a Montgomery County curfew:

Leggett: I've received opposition primarily from the young people. If I was 17 I'd probably write a letter to myself saying "don't do it," but I'm far from 17 now.

This will help us to both control youth committing crime and those who are victims of crime.

This is something that I think we need. Overall, from what I've heard, it's been received very well.

Baker: There's no problem for all of us to communicate together.

10:42 a.m., speaking about police encrypting radios and eliminating public or media access, and access for counties that can't afford to update:

Baker: We're working on our communications with D.C. police. I think we are still able to listen to D.C. police scanners, but I'll check to make sure.

Leggett: It's not an issue for us. We're able to listen to the D.C. police department.

10:36 a.m., speaking about Walmart's plans to set up on Rockville Pike and elsewhere in Maryland, and benefits packages they offer communities:

Leggett: The one on Rockville Pike comes in as a matter of right. There may be some displacement or traffic challenges, but they're replacing some of the smaller stores that are there.

Baker: The Walmart in Prince George's had big community opposition until they brought in the community benefits package.

10:32 a.m., speaking about the executive number rerouting to the Montgomery County 311 system:

Leggett: That would have only been because the staff was busy at that time. We have a reduced staff due to budget cuts in the past few years.

10:26 a.m., speaking about redistricting in Md.:

Baker: The plan we support does not "take out" Donna Edwards, the only African American congresswoman in the state. She will get more African American constituents. Her numbers actually go up, so her ability to keep that seat -- she's a strong congresswoman -- will remain.

I think it's fair and balanced for the state.

Leggett: Rep. Edwards will have stronger numbers once this plan is approved. Her electability for minority voters will go up.

10:24 a.m., speaking about raising taxes in Prince George's:

Baker: Our tax rates rely on property taxes, and is very high, but we also have services we have to provide for our citizens. We have to increase dollars to schools and public safety, so we're running out of revenue streams.

We simply don't have the ability to raise those revenues, so I'm going to the state to offer business opportunities.

I will support those things that will get us the revenues that will get us the quality life we deserve.

10:13 a.m., speaking about the project Purple Line, and who would pay:

Baker: The Post editorial today was really good as it spelled out some of the problems we saw in Virginia.

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