Tax shortfall called accurateThe panel charged with...

MARYLAND NEWSWATCH

September 22, 1992

MARYLAND STATE — Tax shortfall called accurate

The panel charged with forecasting the state's financial health concluded yesterday that numbers being used by Gov. William Donald Schaefer are right on the mark.

The Board of Revenue Estimates has been under fire for repeatedly overestimating the tax revenues that would be generated by the state's ailing economy, forcing the governor and General Assembly to make midyear spending cuts eight times the past two years. Mr. Schaefer had threatened not to use the board's forecast in eliminating the current budget shortfall if he did not agree with it.

Sensitive to such criticism, the board -- composed of Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, Treasurer Lucille Maurer and Budget and Fiscal Planning Secretary Charles L. Benton Jr. -- began in July to bring in virtually everyone in state government involved in tax collections or financial forecasting, as well as private economists and local officials. The board concluded that the current shortfall is an estimated $451 million, or $1 million more than Mr. Schaefer's estimate.

The difference is considered insignificant in the context of a $12 billion state budget.

A Silver Spring woman is suing the state for $500,000 for injuries she received in a fall in a restroom at Sandy Point State Park.

Judith Page contends in her lawsuit, filed last week in Anne Arundel Circuit Court, that she was injured June 16, 1991, when she slipped and fell on the wet floor.

She sustained permanent injuries to her neck, back and knees in the fall, according to the suit.

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The body of Anthony W. Whisner, 29, of Hagerstown, who apparently drowned in the Potomac River, was recovered by divers about 11 a.m. yesterday in the same area where he was reported missing while camping on Shupp's Island.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police said they are continuing to investigate the drowning, however, because Mr. Whisner was considered to be a good swimmer who was long-familiar with the area.

Anne Arundel County

A business group says the state's plan to improve air quality by urging commuters into car pools and mass transit is too complicated and too expensive for employers.

The Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce says the car pooling rules planned by the Maryland Department of the Environment are more complicated than the federal government requires.

Peggy Chandler, executive director of the Chamber, says the proposed regulations could force businesses to hire new employees specifically to coordinate car pools and complete the paper work.

With many companies laying off workers and trying to cut costs, "This is not the time to tell businesses to add people on to do something the state does not even have to do," Ms. Chandler says.

The 1990 Clean Air Act requires car-pooling in cities with the poorest air quality, including Baltimore.

The law requires employers of 100 or more workers to increase the average occupancy of each car driven to their work sites between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. by 25 percent.

Carroll County

The owner of a former sludge pit off Bear Run Road in Taneytown will be ordered to dismantle the facility, which has long been an environmental concern of neighbors, Commissioner Julia W. Gouge says.

The county has sent a letter to owner Robert C. Neal to remove the pit, which is the size of a football field, and restore the site to its former condition within 15 days. Mr. Neal failed to apply for a permit to use the facility as a silo or farm storage building.

"We're tired of the whole mess," Ann Brose, who lives on Sells Mill Road, told Mrs. Gouge during an informal meeting.

Ms. Brose and her neighbors have been battling the existence of the 8-foot-deep pit since it was built four years ago by a Baltimore sludge-management firm, Enviro-Gro Technologies Inc. That company has a contract with Mr. Neal.

The neighbor group battled the firm through the Carroll Board of Zoning Appeals to the courts and won a major victory last year before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. That court upheld a county zoning ordinance that forbids the use of the facility, which was built without a building permit or zoning approval. The Maryland Court of Appeals declined to hear the firm's appeal.

When the legal avenues were exhausted, the county told Mr. Neal that he needed to seek a permit to use the facility for farm-related purposes or remove the structure, county officials say.

Harford County

Edgewood residents plan a 4.6-mile walk-a-thon through their community next Sunday to draw neighborhoods together to solve common problems ranging from neglected teen-agers to drug-related crime.

"If we run drugs out of one area, they just go to another. We have to treat Edgewood as a whole," says Anita Sills-Jones, a spokeswoman for NICE, the organization sponsoring the walk.

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