Citizen testimony before the Planning Board tomorrow night about $121 million requested by county department chiefs for capital projects is not expected to produce the same kind of angst that the operating budget is generating.
At least not yet.
For one thing, the capital budget requests are $66 million less than last year. For another, the county's bond affordability committeehas not told County Executive Charles I. Ecker yet how much new debtit thinks the county can carry.
Also, the county's capital budgetis perceived differently from the county's operating budget because the capital budget spreads payments over many years. It is perceived as more recession-proof than an operating budget, in which income must be found to meet expenditures in the space of a year.
Questions or criticisms are likely to focus more on whether the county needs a project than if they can afford it.
If affordability is questioned, it will probably ask how much the cost of running a project will add to the county's annual operating budget.
New on the wish list for the 1992 fiscal year are a $5.4 million composting facility, a $12 million landfill at an undetermined site, a $1.6 million "office laboratory storage complex," a $700,000 acquisition of the historic Ellicott City train station, and seven new parks costing $18 million.
The Board of Education wants $36 million for its projects, and other department heads want $57 million for road construction and resurfacing, land preservation, water and sewer facilities, storm drainage, andnew office buildings.
Significantly changed from earlier capital projects is a $10 million increase for initial construction of Route 100 and a $398,000 request to acquire land for a Murray Hill Road widening.
More and more, garbage disposal seems to be a major problemfor the county. In addition to asking $285,000 this year to evaluatesite alternatives and recommend a 600-acre site for a new landfill, the county is already committed to spending $50 million to design andconstruct a leachate collecting system at the existing landfill.
That system and the composting facility are needed to meet new state environmental requirements, according to the capital budget request. The composting facility is needed to help the county recycle 20 percent or more of its garbage by 1994.
The compost facility could process approximately 26,000 tons of leaves, grass and brush a year and would begin operation in fall 1992. The cost of running the facility would add about $200,000 a year to the county's operating budget.
The request for office laboratory storage calls for the county to buy the Thulman-Eastern building in the Chevrolet Drive area and renovateit. When completed, it would replace the public works annex in Scaggsville. The cost of maintaining the storage facility is expected to be $46,000 a year.
Purchase of the Ellicott City train station would "preserve and protect" it for educational purposes and as a touristattraction, the capital budget request says. Since the county already rents the station on a month-to-month basis, no additional expenseswould be expected in the annual operating budget.
With the exception of a $3 million request to acquire land for a $6 million, 300-acre park in the Cooksville-Lisbon area, most of the other new recreation requests were for parks adjacent to new school sites. Altogether the park projects would add an estimated $618,000 to the county's operating budget.
As for the additional $10 million wanted for Route 100, the public works department says it needs the money to reserve rights of way now so a two-lane highway between Route 29 and Route 104 can be built by developers and completed by 1994.
Although this is still essentially a state project, the state does not have the money to proceed. Plans call for the state to reimburse the county later. The public works department says the project will save the county money in its operating budget because it will reduce roadway maintenance costs.
The $398,000 Murray Hill request is to complete acquisitionof land for a project postponed by the County Council in 1985. Altogether, the project to design and reconstruct Murray Hill Road from Gorman Road to the Middle Patuxent River Bridge -- a distance of 4,400 feet -- is expected to cost $1.8 million.
As with the Route 100 project, the budget request says the project will save the county moneyby reducing road maintenance costs.
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