City approves $210.5 million capital budget

March 06, 1992|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

The city Planning Commission yesterday approved a $210.5 million capital budget for next year that allocates a large sum for the Christopher Columbus Center for Marine Research and Exploration but provides little funding for the city's existing cultural institutions.

The fiscal 1993 capital budget is part of a six-year, $1.2 billion program for physical improvements approved yesterday by the Planning Commission.

Next year's portion of the spending plan proposes $42.9 million for the Christopher Columbus Center, a $200 million marine biology and biotechnology research center to be built on Pier 5 of the Inner Harbor.

The project, which officials hope will spur hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment and provide a new Inner Harbor tourist attraction, involves federal, state and city funds.

The budget also includes $6.8 million for repairs to the "ring tanks" at the National Aquarium. The cost of the repairs is being shared with the city by private donors and the state.

"Besides those, we have really no appropriation for cultural institutions," said Victor L. Bonaparte, assistant planning director. "They have really suffered. When you get into a critical situation with funds, you have to make priorities."

Other projects in next year's capital budget include:

* $5.2 million for renovation of Windsor Hills and Garrett Heights elementary schools.

* $3.7 million for 11 school roof replacements.

* $4.5 million for construction of a new Northern District police station. Planning officials say a site has yet to be chosen for the new station.

* $4 million for the Community Development Financing Corp, a quasi-public bank that funds housing development.

* $600,000 for library improvements and to upgrade the library's computer-based information system.

* $2.1 million for Lake Roland Dam rehabilitation.

* $1 million for repairs at neighborhood senior citizens centers.

The capital budget, down from $258 million last year, reflects the city's tight fiscal condition and the effects of the recession.

Motor vehicle revenues, for instance, have dipped during the recession to $11 million from last year's $24 million, Mr. Bonaparte said. That money, which comes from a range of automobile-user fees, goes for road maintenance.

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