Carroll to raise possibility of toll roads, gas tax split at western counties session Commissioners debating how to pay for highways

October 02, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

Toll roads and shared gas tax revenue will be on the Carroll County Commissioners' agenda today when they join their counterparts in Western Maryland for a quarterly county commissioners' meeting.

Frustrated over the lack of major state road projects in Carroll, Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Richard T. Yates will broach the subject of toll roads to their colleagues from Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties.

What the Carroll pair will be looking for, said Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown, is to understand the consequences if Carroll were to build interstate-like highways as toll roads.

"We need to ask questions like 'What happens if they're built?' " said Brown. "Are they viable? How financially sound are they?"

The commissioners don't expect to do much more than touch on the issue at this morning's brief meeting, which will include agenda items from other counties and will end with lunch at noon.

The quarterly gatherings typically are a "somewhat social exchange of ideas about regional issues," said Dell.

Yates said their value is that they give the commissioners from the various counties "a time to talk about our wish lists -- what we hope to get [from the state] and what we want to tell our legislative delegations."

Among Carroll's concerns, Yates said, is that Baltimore gets 11 percent of the state gas tax, while the remainder is shared among the other 23 jurisdictions.

"That's unfair now that Baltimore's population has been on a decline," Yates said.

"We're a unified group," he said of the commissioners from five counties. "The time has come for a more equitable sharing of the gas tax" to fund local road projects.

Brown will take part in the dedication of a new dormitory at Bowling Brook Preparatory School this morning and will not attend the meeting. He said discussions usually center on "how smaller counties can get a fairer shake from the state," which he said is "always an issue, and it's always perplexing."

Part of that perplexity comes because issues that affect one jurisdiction often don't overlap with those that affect another, Brown said.

"One of the things we discover in our discussions is how disparate we are," he said.

Pub Date: 10/02/98

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