Cuts Could Be Reduced

March 01, 1992

ANNAPOLIS — The state's reduction in aid to Carroll for the remainder of the current fiscal year would decrease from $3.7 million to $2.3 million, under a plan approved by the House Appropriations Committee last week.

The county commissioners have made provisions to slash $3.7 million from the current year's $112 million operating budget.

They have asked the Board of Education to make $1.95 million in contingent cuts. The other $1.74 million would be cut from county government, under the commissioners' plan.

The cut requested from schools is 53 percent of the total anticipated reduction; the schools' budget constitutes 53 percent of the county's operating budget.

Under the House committee's revised scenario, assuming the commissioners maintained the same ratio for reductions, the Board of Education would have to cut $1.22 million and county government $1.08 million.

The committee made amendments to the governor's budget reconciliation act for fiscal 1992, which ends June 30.

The governor proposed eliminating a deficit -- now estimated as high as $270 million -- by reducing aid to local governments by $142.5 million.

The committee has proposed reducing that amount to $88.5 million to soften the blow to local governments, whose leaders say that deep cuts are difficult to make so late in the budget year.

The committee approved a temporary transfer from the Transportation Trust Fund to compensate for reducing local aid cuts. Some legislators say that transfer inevitably will be compensated by an increase in the gas tax.

The commissioners, who have slashed about $4 million from the original budget in an earlier round of cuts, had planned to trim about $1.4 million from capital projects to address the pending second round.

The school board had planned to cut $700,000 by furloughing all employees for two days and $1.25 million through administrative and maintenance cuts and construction and purchase delays. School employees already have takenone furlough day.

The Senate is working on its own plan. Differences between the chambers would be resolved by a conference committee.

LAMOTTE ATV BILL KILLED

DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS

ANNAPOLIS -- The House Judiciary Committee killed by a 12-4 vote a bill sponsored by Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-Carroll, Baltimore, that would have required the registration of all-terrain vehicles and established safety and minimum-age standards for riders.

This represents the seventh consecutive year that the legislature has defeated LaMotte's attempt to establish regulations for riders of three-wheel and four-wheel ATVs and minibikes. Dels. Richard C. Matthews, R-Carroll, and Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, were co-sponsors.

AAA-Automobile Club's Potomac Division, the Maryland Farm Bureau, Baltimore public works officials, the state Department of Natural Resources and the American Academy of Pediatrics supported the legislation.

Several motorcyclists associations and a citizens land-use committee opposed the measure.

The bill was intended to curtail damage to private and public landscaused by trespassing ATV riders by making the vehicles easier to identify, and it was supposed to reduce debilitating injuries from accidents.

The registration fee would have been $18.50. The revenues would have gone to the Motor Vehicle Administration to cover costs, with extra money targeted toward the state's operating budget.

Carroll farmers have complained in the past that ATV riders destroyed their crops. Baltimore officials say unlawful riding in reservoir watersheds causes harmful erosion.

LaMotte has said he believes influential members of the committee don't want the bill passed.

COCKFIGHT BILL PASSES

DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS

ANNAPOLIS -- The House last week passed a bill, 121-2, sponsored by Del. Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll, Howard, that would make it a misdemeanor to willingly and knowingly be aspectator at a cockfight or dog fight.

The bill is intended to make it easier for law enforcement officials to make arrests at the illegal gambling events in which the animals, often drugged and rigged with weapons, fight to the death.

Humane societies and police agencies have received reports of cockfights at different locations throughout Maryland.

Carroll Humane Society Director Carolyn "Nicky" Ratliff, who also serves as president of a state animal workers coalition, is one of the bill's main backers.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will have a hearing on the bill.

HAINES BILL IS APPROVED

DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS

ANNAPOLIS -- The Senate last week passed a bill, 45-0, sponsored by Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll, Baltimore, that would change the way recordation taxes are collected.

The legislation would allow county governments to directly collect recordation taxes from property deeds, security agreements and other instruments of writing.

Taxes on those documents now are collected by the clerk of the Circuit Court, which retains 5 percent of the income in most jurisdictions, including Carroll.

The bill could create an estimated additional $4.5 million in revenue for Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore in fiscal 1993.

But the state would lose the 5 percent of the income -- about $4.5 million -- that ordinarily could be targeted to state-financed clerk's offices.

The bill now goes to the House.

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