Of the 10 bond issue questions on the Nov. 3 ballot in Baltimore County, three of them account for nearly half of the $118 million in bonds being considered by voters. Those three questions concern public schools, community colleges and public libraries, with potential funds adding up to $50.4 million. (The remaining bond questions will be examined in an upcoming editorial.)
By far, the biggest chunk of that $50.4 million is found in Question A, which would authorize $46.1 million for building new schools, making improvements at existing sites and buying properties for future schools. Only Question D, the $47.4 million public works borrowing ordinance, is larger.
The new construction projects would include Jacksonville and Mays Chapel Elementary Schools and Nottingham Middle School. Also, additions would be made to Hereford Middle School and Perry Hall High School. Much-needed roof repairs ($13.7 million) and asbestos removal ($8 million) at various county schools are the other major components of Question A.
Question C would provide up to $3.3 million for new construction, building renovations and maintenance at the three Baltimore County community colleges, in Essex, Dundalk and Catonsville. If approved, these bonds would be supplemented by state funds.
The buildings and grounds of the county's 25 public library branches would be renovated and maintained through a $1 million bond issue listed on the ballot as Question J.
While this year's public school bond issue is for $6 million more than in the 1990 election, the amount is still only half of what the school board requested. Indeed, the total of $118 million for 1992 bond questions is just slightly more than half of the 1990 total. This reflects County Executive Roger B. Hayden's desire to keep borrowing down and thereby minimize interest payments as the county continues to be buffeted by the recession and state aid cuts.
Still, this year's package of $118 million is the second-highest bond issue in county history, surpassing the $110 million package brought to voters in 1988.
The Hayden administration deserves some credit for creating a list of borrowing ordinances that manages to meet pressing needs while minding the ever-tightening restraints of a sour economy.
We urge Baltimore County residents to vote FOR Questions A, C and J on Nov. 3.