O's to collect cell phones to benefit shelter

CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

May 13, 2006

The Baltimore Orioles are encouraging fans who attend tomorrow's game against the Kansas City Royals to bring their old cellular phones as part of benefit for the House of Ruth, a domestic violence center.

Verizon Wireless will donate $5 to the shelter for each phone collected, to a maximum of $5,000. Verizon will recycle the donated phones.

Baltimore: Forest Park

Instruction set on voting machines

Community leaders will hold a tutorial on Maryland's new touch-screen voting machines today for those who want to familiarize themselves with the equipment before Election Day. Sponsored by the Forest Park Neighborhood Association and City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway, the forum will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the Forest Park branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, 3023 Garrison Blvd. The machines, which have been criticized this year by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., were distributed statewide about two years ago.

Brownfields

EPA award to aid in cleanup

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday the award of $600,000 to the city to assist with cleanup of brownfield sites. The funding includes $200,000 for the seven acres at Middle Branch Park set to become the National Aquarium's Center for Aquatic Life and Conservation; $200,000 for an 8.7-acre site at 101. W. Garrett St.; and $200,000 to the Baltimore Development Corp. for a broader assessment of other city brownfield sites. Brownfields are properties contaminated by industrial waste or pollution, and have frequently been unused. The grants to Baltimore -- part of $49.9 million in funding announced by the EPA -- seek to remove the contaminated soil and other environmental hazards from those sites to permit them to be redeveloped.

City Council

Proposal seeks to trim tax rate

Baltimore City Councilman James B. Kraft said he will introduce a measure at the City Council meeting Monday that would return a portion of future budget surpluses to taxpayers, the latest proposal to reduce the city's property tax rate this year. The bill, which would cut the city's property tax rate by 11 cents -- or about $220 each year for a $200,000 home -- relies on a continuation of the rosy tax collections the city has experienced in recent years. "One of things that keeps people from moving to Baltimore right now is the high tax rate," said Kraft. The city's tax rate is the highest in the state, at $2.308 per $100 of assessed value.

Taxpayer's Night scheduled Monday

The Baltimore City Council is set to hold Taxpayer's Night at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the War Memorial Building, 101 N. Gay St. The night is intended to give city residents a chance to comment on the annual property tax rate. Mayor Martin O'Malley's proposed budget calls for a 2-cent reduction.

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