The County Commissioners have requested legislation that would allow them to contribute directly to non-profit organizations rather than funneling money through government agencies.
The proposal, if approved by the General Assembly, would satisfy another request the commissioners presented to the six-member Carroll delegation, for legislation authorizing $1 million in county contributions to Carroll County General Hospital over five years.
The commissioners and Carroll's General Assembly delegates discussed six county legislative proposals, a state initiative aimed at managing growth and financing options for highway projects at the pre-session meeting Tuesday.
The delegation will have a public hearing on the legislative requests and other issues at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, in Room 07 of the County Office Building in Westminster.
The commissioners have authority to donate money to four non-profit organizations -- the Historical Society of Carroll County, Association of Retarded Citizens/Carroll County, Children's Aid Society and volunteer fire companies. But many other groups that lobby for money each year are financed through other county or state agencies.
"We want the contributions to be more out in the open so they're easier to discern in the budget," said Steven D. Powell, county budget director.
The proposal would allow the commissioners to contribute to the agencies, provided those groups make requests 180 days before the fiscal year begins July 1 and have a public hearing with the board.
The previous Board of Commissioners agreed to contribute money to the hospital to help finance an improvements program, but enabling legislation is needed.
Other proposals discussed would give the county authority to establish a farmers market for Carroll producers and to sell bonds to finance capital projects. Two proposed liquor law changes, including one that would increase license fees, were introduced.
The farmers market, which would be set up as a "tailgate" operation, would provide an outlet to Carroll farmers and help the county market its agriculture industry, said James C. Threatte, county economic development director.
County Planning Director Edmund R. "Ned" Cueman expressed displeasure with the Governor's Commission on Growth in the Chesapeake Bay Region, saying the panel's recommendations are evolving too quickly into legislation that could infringe on local land-use planning rights.
Several delegates said they didn't expect the growth-management legislation to be passed in the upcoming session.
"Environmental concerns are the top priority when everybody has jobs and the economy is good," said Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore.
"This year, we know we have more pressing problems."
The officials also discussed a proposal originally suggested by former Commissioner President John L. Armacost that would authorize the county to build toll roads as a way to finance highway projects deferred by the state. Legislators have not supported the proposal.
Commissioner Julia W. Gouge urged the legislators to lobby intensely for delayed projects, especially the Hampstead bypass.
Commissioner President Donald I. Dell suggested that Interstate 795 be extended through Carroll rather than building several separate bypasses.
Haines supported the concept of connecting I-795 with Pennsylvania's highway system.