Baltimore County bond issues propose repairs to schools, roads, storm drains Ballot also will include three charter measures

October 23, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Road projects and school repairs top the list of spending priorities on the Baltimore County ballot Nov. 3, when voters are asked to approve $195 million in bond issues, along with three charter amendments.

Though no individual, big-ticket items are on the ballot, the county seeks approval for bonds that will fund repairs to schools, roads, alleys, bridges and storm drains.

The charter amendments include a proposal that would exempt the county executive's staff from the county's civil service merit system -- a watered-down version of a plan that would have exempted dozens of senior civil service jobs.

That idea was scrapped after strong objections from county employee groups and residents fearful that such a change would weaken the merit system and give the executive excessive control.

Nearly half of the bonds that voters are being asked to authorize -- $85 million -- involve schools, including $1 million to plan a high school in Owings Mills.

The rest will go for roofs and other long-delayed repairs at older elementary schools, 80 percent of which were built before 1970.

A consultant's report earlier this year said repairs to elementary schools would cost $213 million over three years.

The second-largest bond issue is $72 million for public works projects, including $43.4 million for new roads and millions more for other work on the county's infrastructure.

The road money includes $10.4 million to help pay for the extension of Route 43, White Marsh Boulevard to Interstate 95, and $3.2 million to help fund the extension of Owings Mills Boulevard to Liberty Road.

"We're continuing our aggressive roads and alley program," said County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger. "We want to finish what we started."

The third-largest bond issue is $17 million for public buildings, including $2.5 million to plan a county detention center and $1.1 million to help pay for Bloomsbury Community Center in Catonsville.

Each of the five remaining bond issues is less than $5 million.

They will provide funds for community colleges, agricultural preservation and waterway restorations, and for the county's efforts to strengthen older neighborhoods.

A charter amendment that prompted controversy -- Question B, involving civil service exemptions -- is more limited in scope, applying only to the county executive's staff.

Another proposed amendment would clarify the approval procedure for some types of contracts. The third amendment would let the council delegate authority to accept gifts to the county worth less than $10,000, to keep small items from clogging the council agenda.

Pub Date: 10/23/98

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