Municipal league to seek more Md. aid to pay police Group also wants to end unfunded mandates

January 07, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The state legislature said no to two proposals from the Maryland Municipal League last year. Undeterred, the league is repeating its requests in 1996 and hoping persistence pays off.

An increase in money for police and a constitutional amendment to end "unfunded mandates" are again the league's priorities.

Maryland towns are spending about $85 million to enforce state and local laws, with the state contributing about 10 percent of the cost. Municipalities are paying for increases in protection, as well as benefits and training for officers.

"We have to keep up with the need for public protection," said New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr., who is chairman of 1996 municipal legislative committee.

The league is proposing a $600 increase in the $900 state allotment for each officer and a $3 contribution per resident, up a dollar from the $2 the state now pays.

An corresponding increase in court costs would pay for the bill, municipal league officials say.

"Obviously we are asking for more money, but we are sponsoring legislation to pay for more police protection," said Mr. Gullo. "By increasing district court costs by $10, it will more than pay for the increases." District court costs are currently $15.

The league is also calling for an end to laws enacted by the legislature that require action by the municipalities without providing money to pay for the programs. Members are calling for a referendum, which, if passed, would prevent the state from passing laws and shifting the cost to the towns.

"We all realize the ripple effect of these laws," said Mr. Gullo. "Municipalities are at the bottom of the ladder. We have no one to turn to except the citizens."

The Carroll legislative delegation, who met with local mayors Thursday, offered no opposition to increases in money for police, but they said the referendum would be a hard sell.

"The state leadership really fights us on these issues because it takes away their power," said Sen. Larry E. Haines, a Westminster Republican who chairs the Carroll delegation. "It is going to be tough to get this legislation."

Carroll mayors said they have felt the impact of state requirements, including time-consuming investment policy reports. The state recently rejected the investment policy proposals of several Carroll towns, often for what one mayor called frivolous semantics.

"We made our mistake by getting a lawyer instead of an accountant," said Manchester Mayor Elmer C. Lippy.

The requirement stems from the state's fear of what happened when a California county nearly went bankrupt because of poor investments, he said.

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