County Not Hurt By State Budget Cuts

Harford To Get 9% More Than Last Year

April 14, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

The state General Assembly trimmed nearly $500 million from the 1991-1992 state budget, but that cut won't adversely affect the county.

Harford will receive more state money -- about 9 percent more -- for local programs and needs than it did last year.

Harford County will receive $87.7 million in direct state aid in the 1991-1992 fiscal year, compared to the $80.4 million in direct aid last year, during the 90-day session that ended Monday.

In addition, the county will get $5,274,422 for capital projects, including anew elementary school on Route 543 and improvements to the Sod Run sewage treatment plan.

"In a year when state revenues are down tremendously, then you come away with that kind of increase (for Harford), I think the people of the county should be happy," said Sen. William H. Amoss, D-District 35A.

"I don't think that was any small featthere," Amoss said.

Amoss noted that the county's 9 percent increase in state money came at a time when many state programs were slashed and few additional sources of revenue, including tax increases, were initiated.

Delegate James M. Harkins, R-District 35A, added: "We did reasonably well, money-wise, given the austere budget year. . .. Looking back to myself, I wonder how we did that."

Major countyprograms that received state funding include:

* $3.4 million for a new elementary school on Route 543. The county Board of Education also will receive $66.5 million, up from $60.4 million last year.

*$587,000 for capital projects at Harford Community College. The money will be used for alterations at college buildings, including the Chesapeake Center.

* $500,000 to install a nutrient removal system at Sod Run sewage plant. The project is part of the Chesapeake Bay Water Quality program.

* $300,000 for construction of a pavilion at the Harford County Equestrian Center for the county Farm Fair.

Major bills sponsored or co-sponsored by members of the county delegationthat won the General Assembly's approval include:

* Legislation prohibiting convicted felons from owning or carrying firearms.

* Legislation permitting pub breweries in Harford County.

* Legislation increasing fees charged by county sheriff's departments in the state for serving court documents.

Most of the bills passed by the General Assembly, if signed by the governor, will take effect July 1.

Despite the successes, delegation-sponsored bills also met defeat.

A bill that would have permitted county civic groups to use slot machines at fund-raising events was defeated on the Senate floor after Gov. William Donald Schaefer threatened to veto it.

Another bill that would have permitted establishments with liquor licenses to install video poker machines was killed in a Senate committee.

Several county delegates, including Harkins, co-sponsored four bills addressing issues related to crime victims in Maryland. All but one -- a billincreasing the fee paid by convicts into the state Victims of Crime Fund -- were defeated.

In addition to the legislation and funding for the county, the delegation also gained the respect of other lawmakers and state administrators, said Delegate Rose Mary H. Bonsack, D-District 34.

That wasn't necessarily an easy task, Bonsack said, noting that the seven-member delegation had six freshman members this year.

"(The session) was a very good learning process," said Bonsack, chairwoman of the county delegation. "They know we're there."

In addition to Bonsack and Harkins, the new members of the delegationare Delegates David R. Craig, R-District 34; Mary Louise Preis, D-District 34; Donald C. Fry, D-District 35A; and Sen. Habern W. Freeman,D-District 34.

Amoss is the only veteran member of the delegation.

Looking ahead to parochial bills in next year's session, Amoss said he would like to put together legislation to make it easier for the county to acquire land for widening roads and installing utilities.

Amoss said he will again try to win approval for civic groups touse slot machines, although he said he may not pursue a bill for video poker next year.

Harkins, an administrator at the county Sheriff's Department, said he plans to sponsor more criminal justice bills next year, particularly one to address frivolous lawsuits against policemen and other public employees.

Bonsack added that the delegation will continue to meet throughout the year to discuss services to constituents and legislation it wants to consider next year.

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