A dieter's banquet for Harford

April 20, 1993

After two gloomy years, rays of sunshine finally broke through the gray financial overcast in Annapolis this session.

"It was a very good year for Harford County," observed County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann. The General Assembly allocated nearly $92 million in general funds to the county. And the capital funds appropriation of $9 million, and possibly more, will help finance new Harford projects.

Last year, the legislature took away about $8 million from the county's appropriation, mostly in the Social Security tax burden for school employees that was shifted from the state to localities.

This time, Harford got $8.5 million more than last year. Harford's allocation was also significantly more than counties of similar size, and ranked sixth among the 24 jurisdictions.

Harford schools fared reasonably well, especially after the legislature increased school construction aid by one-third, up to $80 million for fiscal year 1994. State funding will go to a new Country Walk elementary school and state approval is expected soon on a 300-pupil addition to Bel Air Middle School and reroofing of Hickory elementary.

The state gave money for an Apprenticeship Training Center at Harford Community College and an expansion of the county detention center. Bond bills will finance renovation of the Spousal Assault Recovery Center and improvements at the Highland Commons community center.

Two requests by the Harford delegation to secure local property tax credits met separate fates. The legislature passed a bill to authorize credits for farmers preserving their land under the county's Rural Plan, but killed a proposal to extend credits to manufacturers using recycled materials. The recycling tax credit will emerge next year as a statewide proposal, however.

The county's proposal to protect sheriff deputies from dismissal without cause was turned down. Some officers feared reprisals after recent heated elections for sheriff, which is a state office.

Harford municipalities lost a bid to impose a 3 percent room tax on motels and hotels.

The legislature also passed a measure placing strict requirements on the incineration of chemical weapons stockpiles at Aberdeen Proving Ground, which could effectively block the burning of stored mustard agent at the military post.

With no sumptuous banquet set this year, Harford County managed to dine reasonably well at the dieter's table in Annapolis.

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