County and Annapolis savor session success

April 13, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

Although in dollars the spoils are modest, officials of Anne Arundel County and Annapolis have good reason to be pleased with the results of this year's General Assembly session.

Both the city and the county received approval for the major pieces of legislation they were pushing for.

Annapolis, in a cliffhanger, came away on the last day of the session with its most important request: $1.25 million in bond money for re-bricking Main Street, with another $1.25 million coming from a trust fund in the state transportation department.

The county received $4.4 million in state money for school construction, including $2.1 million from a last-minute additional appropriation. The money will pay for replacement of Park Elementary School in Glen Burnie, renovations and an addition to South Shore Elementary School in Crownsville, and renovations at four other schools.

Delegates expressed a little disappointment that the county received less school construction money than in past years. Del. John G. Gary, R-Millersville, said the county usually receives about 10 percent of total school construction money, which would have given it $10 million of the $106 million total for the state.

But designs for several school projects were not ready by the deadline to apply for state money, he said.

The county may receive an additional $3.4 million in school construction money if it becomes available later. "It could be that if other counties are not ready to proceed, our projects will go forward," said Del. Joan Cadden, D-Brooklyn Park.

County Executive Robert R. Neall got everything he went after.

The General Assembly gave the county $1.2 million in leftover bond money so that officials can begin designing a new county Detention Center annex in Glen Burnie and renovations of the jail on Jennifer Road near Annapolis.

"It wasn't a year of great, glitzy pieces of legislation," said Louise Hayman, a spokeswoman for Mr. Neall. "But there were some things that will make life easier for us, particularly from a fiscal standpoint."

One of those bills will allow the county to refinance its bonds that were issued prior to the property tax cap with the full faith and credit of the county's taxing power. Without this bill, the county's ability to back the refinanced bonds would be limited by the tax cap, which sets the annual growth in total property tax revenue to the local rate of inflation or 4.5 percent, whichever is less.

The other bill that aids the county fiscally will extend the county's admissions and amusement tax to instant bingo scratch-off cards sold at the county's bingo parlors, which will generate about $240,000 in revenue each year.

Legislators also passed a bill that would allow the county to use 20 percent of transfer tax revenues it receives from the state to purchase easements for agricultural land preservation.

"It was a good bill for farmers. It was a good bill for containing growth," said Myron Wotring, the county's legislative liaison.

The only major disappointment this session was that state money to design a conference center in Annapolis fell through.

Members of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, which devised the conference center idea, asked for the withdrawal of the request for $1 million after it became clear it lacked legislators' support.

"We're disappointed that the funding didn't become available from the state, but we think we made some inroads in selling the concept," Ms. Hayman said. "And there's always next year."

It appears that the lack of state support will affect the $250,000 pledged by the county for the project. "It is unlikely that you will find money for that in the upcoming capital budget," Ms. Hayman said.

In other action, the legislature:

* Raised the sheriff's $42,000 annual salary by 6 percent in the next fiscal year and by 3 percent in the three subsequent years. After four years, the sheriff would be making $48,700 a year. That is considerably less than the $65,000 requested by Sheriff Robert G. Pepersack.

* Allowed microbreweries in the county to sell their beer to customers in glass jars, called growlers, for home consumption. The bill was drafted for the Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis, which is planning to build a microbrewery. The tavern will now seek approval from the city.

* Set aside $100,000 to buy property and expand parking at the pTC historic Captain Salem Avery House in Shady Side.

* Raised the Orphan's Court judges' salary from $13,500 to $15,000 a year.

* Granted Maryland Police Training Commission certification to the Crofton Police Department.

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