Carroll Republican Delegates Back Gop Budget Plan

Controversial Requests Withheld By Delegation

January 19, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

ANNAPOLIS — The Carroll delegation on Thursday deferred or rejected four legislative requests from the county commissioners that had been strongly opposed at a presession public hearing.

In deciding not to submit half of the commissioners' eight requests, the legislators advised the commissioners to have a public hearing in the future on their proposals before bringing them to the six-member delegation. The commissioners could then weed out objectionable initiatives and better prepare others, the legislators said.

The delegation generally approves legislative requests from the commissioners, who must go through the General Assembly to enact locallaws because the county doesn't have home rule.

The legislators said Carroll residents provided perspectives that helped influence their decisions on several of the proposals at the Jan. 4 hearing.

The delegation rejected bills that would have established a 3 percent tax on hotel rooms, required home sellers near planned or existing quarries to notify prospective buyers of mining activities and prohibited giving away live animals as prizes at events such as fire company carnivals.

It also deferred a plan for a county reserve fund of up to 5 percent of the operating budget, to be used for economic emergencies. Legislators said they were reluctant to sponsor it this year because procedures for spending the money haven't been established. Residents expressed concern that the account could be mishandled.

"Maybe not this year, but at some point in time, it's good legislation,"said Sen. Charles H. Smelser, D-Carroll, Frederick, Howard. He said it could strengthen the county's bond rating, which translates to lower interest rates.

Legislators said the county probably wouldn't be affected adversely if the fund isn't created for fiscal 1993 because the commissioners will need all available revenue for operating costs.

The proposal requiring notification within a half-mile of mining areas, recommended by planners to complement the mining plan they are developing, had drawn the most fire from residents.

"Professionally, the real estate industry is obligated to disclose this information," said Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore.

The delegation quickly dismissed the bill prohibiting giving away animals, fromgoldfish to horses. Instead, legislators intend to write to the Carroll Volunteer Firemen's Association asking it to work on an acceptable solution.

The proposal was recommended by the Carroll Humane Society to prevent the abuse of animals given away as prizes.

The hotel tax, which would have raised $60,000 to $80,000 annually, was rejected on its face.

"I'm not voting for any taxes this year," said Haines, repeating a theme often stated by lawmakers.

Del. Donald B.Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, questioned whether construction projectsat the new Carroll Community College should be included in the county's request for authority to borrow money for public facilities.

"I'd like to think I'm an advocate of community colleges, but is it animminent need?" he asked.

Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, said community colleges are in "great demand."

The legislators said they would ask Carroll Community College officials to present more specific information about planned projects.

COMMISSIONERS' REQUESTED BILLS

* Bond Authorization: Enables county to borrow specified amount through bond market, projected between $10 million and $15 million, for public facility construction projects. Status: Will be drafted; borrowing ceiling to be determined.

* Reserve for Economic Stabilization: Authorizes creation of reserve fund, not to exceed 5 percent of county operating budget, for difficult economic times.Status: Deferred for at least one year, but concept approved.

* Fire Company Loans: Authorizes county to lend money to 14 volunteer fire companies for capital costs, including equipment purchases, up to determined debt levels. Status: Will be drafted with $2 million ceiling.

* Hotel Rental Tax: A 3 percent tax on hotel rooms to offset tourism and economic development expenses, or for general fund. Status: Rejected.

* Project for Prisoners: Enables commissioners to employ Carroll County Detention Center inmates for a range of public projects, contributing to prisoners' rehabilitation. Status: Will be drafted, language reviewed by county officials before submission.

* Notification: Requires prospective purchasers of property within half-mile of existing or planned future mining operations be notified of that activity by home seller as part of contract agreement. Status: Rejected.

* Animals as Prizes: Prohibits giving away any live animal,including fish, horses or birds, as a contest or game prize or as aninducement to enter a place of amusement. Status: Rejected.

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