Harford Hits the Jackpot

April 18, 1994

Harford County hit the jackpot in the General Assembly this year -- without even legalizing slot machines.

A new maritime museum in Havre de Grace, a senior citizens center in Edgewood and a new state police barracks in Benson got state approval. So did plans to restore and renovate two historic 19th century freed-slave schoolhouses in Joppa and Darlington and to preserve R. Madison Mitchell's decoy workshop in Havre de Grace.

The legislature authorized funds to double the size of the county detention center and to create an acute psychiatric care ward at Harford Memorial Hospital. An advanced sewage treatment unit for the Sod Run plant was approved and state money will help the county buy shoreline property.

Harford will get a fifth Circuit Court judge (squeezing space in the court house) and the next state's attorney will get an additional $10,000 spread over four years.

Deputies and corrections officers under the Harford County sheriff will receive civil service protection against arbitrary firing.

The only setback for the county government's package was denial of tax credits for neighbors of Harford rubblefills; residents near sanitary landfills now get a credit. But volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians will get a $2,000 state-local tax credit for their civic service.

The legislature quickly turned down a county delegation request to allow slot machine gambling in Harford fraternal clubs. Eight other counties on the Eastern Shore have that permission, which the legislature wants to restrict. But Harford bowling alleys with food service will now be able to serve alcohol behind the foul line.

Two measures will require selection of members of the Harford school board and Harford Community College board from each of the six County Council election districts, with other members serving at large. Rules were also tightened for participation in the organization that nominates Harford school board members for the governor's appointment.

Allocations of school construction money are yet to be decided, but the $105 million statewide appropriation should permit $2.5 million in long-delayed renovations of Havre de Grace Elementary and Roye-Williams Elementary in Oakington.

The governor's signature is required to enact legislative measures but these bills should get routine approval. All told, it was a very profitable quarter in Annapolis for Harford County.

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