Fire academy delayed for Baltimore County

October 02, 1990|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

The Baltimore County Council postponed plans for a $20 million fire academy last night until after the Nov. 6 election and signaled that it might have to postpone other similar projects if a 2 percent cap on property tax revenues was approved at the polls.

Council members voted unanimously to table two architectural agreements, worth a total $388,000, that were recommended as initial steps toward the Sparrows Point Fire Training Academy. The training and truck maintenance facility is planned for a 26-acre site.

Council Chairman C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III said that he still felt the project was a necessity and that it would eventually be completed. But he and other council members said it might be canceled or postponed if the tax cap was approved -- because there was no use planning for projects the county might not be able to afford.

The 2 percent cap was put on the ballot by tax protesters interested in restricting future property tax increases.

"In light of this [ballot question], we need to look at our overall fiscal situation," said Councilman Ronald B. Hickernell, D-1st. "Let's wait to make that decision. Let's wait until the voters have spoken, and the voters will speak on this."

Baltimore County officials have warned for the past two weeks that the cap would mean cuts that could translate into larger classes in the public schools, fewer police and firefighters, potholed streets and increased delays for building permits.

Fred Homan, county budget director, warned the council last night that the tax cap also could hurt the county's triple-A bond rating and mean that big-ticket projects would be cut back, postponed or canceled.

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