Unabated Capital Spending Foreseen

February 08, 1991|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,Staff writer

As the county begins its annual peek-a-boo budget game, spending on costly building projects shows few signs of slowing.

The budget plans of County Executive Robert R. Neall's administration remain shrouded in secrecy. But requests for capital spending next year will rival the $116 million authorized for 1991, Planning Advisory Board vice chairman Robert D. Voegtlin said yesterday.

Despite expectations for a no-growth operating budget next year, it seems unlikely the county would not use up the roughly $55 millionit can borrow under charter limitations.

"There's always a chance, but I doubt that would happen," Voegtlin said. "It will probably bemore than twice that."

That would put next year's capital budget at more than $110 million. It would be enough to pay for everything from $15 million for two new office buildings in Parole to $158,000 toerect an environmentally correct home that would teach developers how to preserve county waterways.

Those were among items opened to abrief public glimpse yesterday, as department heads presented their wish lists to the board. As an advisory body to the executive and County Council, the board keeps its voting and recommendations secret.

The board met yesterday and the previous Thursday to whittle at preliminary capital budget requests from public works, the library system, the Detention Center, the fire department and community development.

The police department was alone yesterday in not seeking money for new projects when fiscal year 1992 begins July 1. Acting Chief Robert Russell said he was content with the completion of a $3 million renovation of police headquarters and a $750,000 drug-testing lab -- both already approved.

But he reminded the board that he wants a new $3 million southern district police station sometime after 1992. And he made an early pitch for a new eastern station after that, complaining the present Mountain Road building is inaccessible to much of the district.

"If (officers) have to get to the Bay Bridge area, it takes them a lot longer," he said. "Once they make an arrest, they have to go all the way back to Mountain Road to drop the prisoner off."

The board listened to others' "needs" and "must-haves."

The "need" list included $300,000 for the beautification program's roadway and school landscaping efforts. The "must have" list -- those mandated either by contract or law -- includes $5 million for the county'sthird and final contribution to the regional light rail project and more than $7 million to expand capacity and strengthen environmental protection at the Millersville landfill.

The county must spend $15million to buy two new office buildings next to its Heritage complexon Riva Road, if it intends to build a new Circuit Courthouse in Annapolis, said public works engineering chief Rodell E. Phaire.

The plan -- five years in the making -- would move court support servicesinto the Arundel Center, displacing workers there to the new Riva Road buildings.

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