Harford's Success in Annapolis

April 16, 1993

Harford County emerged from the General Assembly session with a healthy increase in state funds for schools and other needs, making up for cutbacks last year that caused all Maryland counties to draw a line in the sand.

The legislature took away about $8 million in state aid from Harford last year; this year, the county got $8.5 million more in general state revenues than in 1992.

Harford fared much better than peer counties in getting its due from Annapolis, with a total of $92 million for various uses, plus $9 million in capital funds to pay for construction projects.

The Harford pot includes $75.6 million for its public schools and $4.8 million for Harford Community College.

Bond money for two priority projects was authorized: renovating the Spousal Assault Recovery Center in Bel Air and improvements to the Highland Commons community building in Street.

The county will get state money for construction of an Apprenticeship Training Center at the community college and for expansion of the county detention center.

By increasing state school construction funding by a third to $80 million, the General Assembly eased the way for approval of the new Country Walk elementary school and imminent funding of an addition to Bel Air Middle School and re-roofing of Hickory Elementary School.

The county will also benefit from state agency building projects: improvements for day-use areas of Susquehanna State Park and replacement of the decrepit State Police post in Benson.

There were some setbacks. Harford municipalities lost a bid to impose a local 3 percent room tax on hotels and motels. Hotel-laden Aberdeen had been most interested in the enabling legislation.

County sheriff deputies, who have been caught in the middle of two heated election campaigns, wanted protection against firing without cause, but they were turned down by the General Assembly.

A bill to authorize local tax credits for Harford manufacturers using recycled materials was killed, but will become the basis for a statewide recycling tax incentive proposal next year.

The local property tax credit was approved for Harford farmers putting land into Rural Plan agricultural preservation, mirroring the credit given for participation in the state easement program.

It was, in all, a good year for Harford in Annapolis, and not in money alone.

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