Smith praises General Assembly efforts

In speech, Balto. Co. executive touts accomplishments of past session

Maryland News

politics

General Assembly

April 13, 2005|By Baltimoresun.com Staff

In a speech to the General Assembly today, Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. thanked legislators for their help in securing greater school renovation and construction funding, as well as support for recreational facilities, public safety projects, the reauthorization of the teacher retire-rehire program and relief for Tropical Storm Isabel victims.

Smith said obtaining more state funding for school renovation and construction projects in Baltimore County was a top priority this past session. The county is set to receive $25 million for these projects, according to Smith's office, and recreation fields at Fullerton and Berkshire elementary schools and Catonsville and Hannah More parks also received funding for improvements.

The General Assembly also approved the teacher retire-rehire program, designed to attract and retain qualified teachers at the county's more challenging schools.

"The Baltimore County delegation rose above partisan politics to work on behalf of the people of Baltimore County," Smith said. "What we accomplished will help safeguard our communities and improve the overall quality of life in our communities."

The legislature granted the $4.5 million the county requested this year for capital projects, including $2 million for a mixed-use project in Towson, and lawmakers tripled the amount of funding for Program Open Space, including $100,000 for the planning and design of a park in North County, $300,000 to expand the Marshy Point Nature Center and $850,000 to fund a community center in Tall Trees Park.

Lillian Holt Park also received $200,000 for renovations, and the county received another $300,000 to help replace Willow Grove Bridge in Cromwell Valley Park, Smith said.

Public safety received a boost in funding as well, with renewed support for the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, which has significantly decreased car thefts in the county, according to Smith's office. Lawmakers also supported legislation that allows judges to sign no-knock warrants, enabling police to perform searches more safely and reduce possible destruction of evidence, Smith said.

Smith also lauded the legislators for their support of county residents still displaced after Isabel. They agreed to channel $2.7 million in federal government aid for storm victims into the Hurricane Isabel Disaster Relief Fund.

Originally published April 13, 2005, 4:14 PM EDT

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