Senate Rejects Neall Bid For Money To Design Jail

Executive Now To Include Cost In Capital Budget

April 03, 1992|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

The Senate yesterday rejected County Executive Robert R. Neall's request for money to design a new jail, but Neall continues to move forward with what he considers Anne Arundel's most needed project.

After the bill died on the Senate floor, Neall said he will include the entire design cost -- $2 to $3 million -- in his new proposed capitalbudget and ask the state for reimbursement next year.

"He absolutely continues to be convinced that this is the right thing to do," said Louise Hayman, Neall's press secretary. Neall considers a new detention center "the most critical need in the county," she said.

The bond bill that would have given the county $1.25 million toward design this year failed twice by three-vote margins.

Wednesday night, the Senate voted, 21-19 with seven abstentions, in favor of the bill -- three votes short of the 24 needed for passage.

At the request of Senate Minority Leader John A. Cade, a Severna ParkRepublican and Neall ally, lawmakers reconsidered the vote. But yesterday's vote was nearly identical -- 21-18 in favor of the bill, witheight abstentions.

Cade and Michael J. Wagner, a Glen Burnie Democrat, voted for the bond bill. Opposing it were Brooklyn Park Democrat Philip C. Jimeno, who has led the fight against Neall's plans to build the jail in his district, and Annapolis Democrat Gerald Winegrad.

Bernie Fowler, a Democrat representing South County, abstained.

On Wednesday night, Cade and Jimeno engaged in debate on the Senatefloor that Jimeno said was "a little heated. But it was nothing personal."

Jimeno said the bill never should have made it out of committee, since it had the support of neither Anne Arundel's Senate delegation nor the County Council. Bills without delegation support almostnever make it to the House or Senate floors.

He also emphasized the $80 million cost of the new jail -- the state would pay half underthe current proposal -- and the fact that a 200-bed addition to the existing detention center near Annapolis is set to open this spring.

Neall administration figures show the addition will be full by 1997. Neall, who wants a new jail ready at that time, included a detention center in last year's capital budget and hired a consultant to look at suitable sites.

A furor arose in January when citizens and state and county lawmakers learned Neall wanted to build the proposed 650-bed jail on a piece of county-owned land in Glen Burnie, along NewOrdnance Road.

Even after the County Council voted, 5-2, against the site, Neall continued to push the state for the $1.25 million -- half the money needed to design a jail.

That money was part of $2.85 million allocated to Anne Arundel in 1990 for the expansion of theexisting detention center. Now that the Senate has refused to approve it for design of a new jail, Jimeno says he will ask that the moneybe recycled for other county capital projects.

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