Chamber backs idea to 'Buy Baltimore Co.' in 1997 agenda

November 20, 1996|By Ronnie Greene | Ronnie Greene,SUN STAFF

Arguing that local businesses deserve an edge in local contracts, the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce is pushing a "Buy Baltimore County" program as part of its 1997 legislative agenda.

Among other issues topping the agenda, the chamber also opposes any measure that imposes a moratorium on construction around schools, and is against an effort to enhance the powers of the county agency that investigates bias in the work force.

Making its pitch yesterday on the "Buy Baltimore County" program at a breakfast for business and political leaders, the chamber said millions of dollars in county and school board contracts filter to businesses outside the county or state each year.

To change that, the chamber argues that companies employing large numbers of county residents or that pay substantial county taxes "should receive a formal advantage in competition for some county contracts."

The edge wouldn't apply to contracts awarded strictly on price. But it would apply to contracts where technical expertise and other factors are considered along with price, such as specialized consulting work.

"The businesses whose work would have an economic benefit to the county should be awarded extra points in the competition for contracts," said Stuart D. Kaplow, chamber vice chairman.

But the program may meet resistance from County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger. Though normally in step with the chamber's agenda, he warned yesterday of potential pitfalls.

"Suppose every county passes a law like that?" he said. "What happens to the free enterprise system? I'm a free enterprise person. You'd have to do this very carefully. And it could backfire."

In its 1997 legislative agenda, the chamber:

Opposes any adequate school facilities law or other measure that would result in a building moratorium around schools.

Opposes any effort to expand the enforcement power of the county Human Relations Commission, a governmental agency that investigates allegations of bias in the work force.

"Strongly" supports a state personal income tax rate reduction by a minimum of 15 percent.

Argues that the county and state have a reputation for being overly restrictive on business, particularly on environmental matters. The chamber supports an order prohibiting local or state regulations from exceeding federal standards without justification.

Endorses an overhaul of the county alcoholic beverage license system that would allow a limited number of liquor licenses to be transferred from political districts overstocked with them to those that have few.

Pushes for an amendment to county zoning regulations that would make the county "a more supportive climate" for home-based businesses.

Pub Date: 11/20/96

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