ANNAPOLIS — It was a lean year for county legislative initiatives, a scattering of requests generating little public fanfare or debate in the GeneralAssembly.
In the end, the County Commissioners gained approval for their three main initiatives -- two bills enabling Carroll government to spend money in certain ways and another allowing it to establish and operate public farmers markets on county land.
Perhaps the most significant piece of county legislation to be enacted this year came not from the commissioners, but from the CarrollCounty Genealogical Society. After suffering defeats the previous two years, the society was rewarded with the passage of a bill designedto preserve small, private cemeteries -- vestiges of the county's heritage -- from the bulldozers of development. Owners of property containing private cemeteries must record their locations in Carroll Circuit Court, alerting developers.
The commissioners kept the workload light for the Carroll delegation, meeting with them infrequently during the session.
"There wasn't too much that was controversial," said Delegate Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, the delegation chairman.
The commissioners received authority to borrow up to $23.4 million through bond sales in fiscal 1992 for construction projects, the most the county has ever asked to borrow. The county must receive permission to sell bonds through the General Assembly because it does nothave a home rule form of government. The borrowed money would finance such projects as roads, schools, Carroll Community College, libraries and other public facilities.
If the county borrowed the full amount and paid it back over 20 years at a 6.4 percent interest rate, it would need to repay $2.1 million annually and $18.7 million in total interest, says a legislative fiscal analyst.
Delegate Richard N.Dixon, D-Carroll, an investment broker, complimented the commissioners for moving toward financing projects through the bond market, rather than with available tax revenue as the county traditionally had done. Costs for long-enduring projects should be spread over time, he said.
Matthews cautioned against becoming too cavalier about borrowing, saying it could burden future generations with debt and lead to imprudent spending practices.
The county is still well below its recommended debt load.
The county also received permission to grant$200,000 annually to Carroll County General Hospital for a five-yearperiod beginning in fiscal 1993. The contributions will help financethe hospital's $14 million plan to upgrade and expand services.
The only county bill generating some concern from Carroll residents was the farmers market proposal, designed to provide outlets for county-grown produce. Farmers have been selling produce in South Carroll from a dairy cooperative's property, which has poor road access. Several operators of the Agricultural Center's crafts and food market in Westminster expressed concern that competing markets could be established, Matthews said.