ANNAPOLIS — County Commissioner President Donald I. Dell testified against a bill Thursday that would abolish the existing Baltimore Regional Councilof Governments and replace it with a scaled-down and less costly Baltimore Metropolitan Council.
Dell opposed the bill because he believes the legislation creates a council with flaws from the outset. Heobjects to allowing county executives or commissioners to designate appointees to represent their positions on the council.
"If there is a purpose strong enough to justify the organization,then that purpose certainly should be of such strength and need to require the active and direct participation and control of the electedofficials of the region," Dell said in written testimony. "I strongly support regional cooperation and communication . . . but only if the control of any regional organization is solely in the hands of those elected to govern."
BRCOG, which coordinates regional planning, disseminates information, provides a forum for regional leaders and distributes federal pass-through money, is undergoing a restructuring.BRCOG currently is affiliated with state government, but the legislation would create an independent council. Some regional leaders have charged that BRCOG is not meeting needs and must re-evaluate its goals.
BRCOG members, by statute, are Baltimore and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Harford and Carroll counties. Participation in the restructured council proposed in the bill would be voluntary.
Dell said he supports belonging to a regional organization, "but I don't know exactly what form."
AID CUT COULD DECREASE
ANNAPOLIS -- The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has approved a budget-balancing plan for fiscal 1992 that would reduce aid to Carrollby $1.3 million.
That alters the plan proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer in December that would reduce aid to Carroll by $3.7 million for the budget year that ends June 30. Local aid reductions have been proposed to help eliminate a shortfall projected at more than $200 million.
The county commissioners already have ordered $3.69 million
in contingent cuts -- $1.95 million from education and $1.74 million from county government.
A plan that passed the House calls for a $2.3 million reduction for Carroll. Sen. Charles H. Smelser, a Carroll Democrat and Budget and Taxation member, said he expects a compromise.
WASTE BURNING MODIFIED
ANNAPOLIS-- A bill supported by a Union Bridge coalition intended to protect residents from the effects of hazardous waste incineration has been amended substantively in committee.
The original bill would have prohibited the state Department of the Environment from issuing permitsfor the burning of hazardous waste as fuel in cement kilns. Union Bridge-based Lehigh Portland Cement applied to burn hazardous wastes inits kilns, but has not received permission.
The House Environmental Matters Committee amended the bill to say that the department "maydelay or suspend the issuance of permits for the treatment or disposal of controlled hazardous substances in cement kilns" until the department makes recommendations and acts upon them.
Another amendmentclarifies that the legislation does not detract from the department's existing authority to "issue, suspend or deny any permit concerningincineration or disposal of hazardous waste." The amendments also eliminate the creation of a task force that would have included citizens to study the issue.
Residents for a Healthier Union Bridge Area testified last month in support of a stronger bill, saying that allowing Lehigh to burn hazardous wastes could pollute the environment andcause health risks.
PRISONERS BILL PASSES
ANNAPOLIS -- The House passed a bill, 136-1, that would allow the Carroll commissioners to employ detention center inmates on public service projects.
A provision was deleted from the bill that would have made the commissioners and the county sheriff immune from liability.
The prisoners, probably non-violent offenders, would be paid, but would have certain costs reduced from their wages, including expenses for incarceration and training.