Officials see meager aid from state 'Smart Growth' plan seen favoring areas of higher density

'We're about to be shut out'

Md. planning official says initiative's goal is to use funds wisely

December 20, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Carroll County officials gasped yesterday when the state unveiled a map that showed which areas of the fast-growing county would be eligible for future Maryland dollars.

Under Gov. Parris N. Glendening's "Smart Growth" initiative, funding for schools, roads and other public works programs would be directed toward high-density communities that have water and sewer service or projected to have the infrastructure soon.

A county map shown to county officials by Deputy State Planning Director Ronald Young highlighted in red those areas that would receive money in Carroll.

"Wow! That leaves a lot of no-man's land," said Steven D. Powell, the county's budget director. "There's an awful lot of gray there."

In other words, it appeared to county officials that little or no state money would be available for Carroll County under the governor's plan.

The Glendening proposal, which must be approved by the General Assembly, would direct funding to areas of the state that are projected to have water and sewer service within six years, provided they have an average density of at least 3.5 people per acre.

State Del. Nancy R. Stocksdale asked to see maps of Montgomery and Prince George's counties for comparison, but she was told they were not available.

Carroll's commissioners and members of the county's legislative delegation view Glendening's proposal as directing state aid for schools, roads and public works projects away from rural counties like Carroll and giving it to Prince George's and Montgomery Counties and Baltimore City.

"Our concern is there may not be funding outside the beltway," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell. "As I read it, we're about to be shut out."

Young, the state deputy planning director, said the proposal "wasn't set up to shift money from one jurisdiction to another, but to use money wisely."

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown told Young the county has done exactly that.

"Carroll County has been doing for the past 20 years what the state is now saying needs to be done," he said. "We've been doing it right for 20 years and haven't got peanuts. How does that compute?"

Young said the amount of state aid shouldn't be too different from what the county has received in the past.

Brown asked Young to tell the governor that Carroll is entitled to more money because it has been doing the right thing.

"Every county told me that," Young said.

"But we have data -- we have a legitimate point here," Brown said.

State Sen. Larry E. Haines said he worried whether the state would would help provide water and sewer service to smaller communities with failing septic systems.

Young said the purpose of the governor's priority funding program is "to change some things." The state may help solve problems, he said, but if the county does approves wells and septic systems that fail, it would have to provide water and sewer service on its own.

"I'm concerned that the governor wants to control everything in the state of Maryland," Haines said. "I don't want to see that happen."

"The governor is really, really concerned," Young said. "We've got to control [government spending] or it will break us. The growning debt on infrastructure, I fear, is larger than the national debet. We can't build it all."

RTC Afterward, Haines said he doubted the General Assembly would approve the governor's initiative.

However, only 24 votes are needed for passage in the Senate and 21 senators are from Baltimore and Montgomery and Prince George's counties, Haines said.

"It may be fairly easy to capture three more [votes] if you count Howard," he said.

Del. Joseph M. Getty said that he thought the governor might have difficult winning legislative approval for his program.

"I'm always surprised by the lack of support the governor has" in the legislature, Getty said.

Pub Date: 12/20/96

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