City/county Digest

CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

June 30, 2006

Tax bills to be sent in Charles Village

The Charles Village Community Benefits District will be permitted to send out property tax bills this summer despite a pending lawsuit accusing the organization of failing to have a quorum when it approved the levy, a Baltimore Circuit Court ruled yesterday.

Judge Albert J. Matricciani Jr. denied a request for an injunction to temporarily block the tax bills until the court can decide whether the organization's board properly approved the tax - but set a date to hear the case next month.

Created in the 1990s, the benefits district levies an extra property tax in exchange for additional sanitation and security. Community advocates filed a lawsuit asserting that the tax was approved without a quorum and asked the court to delay distribution of the bills.

The board's decision was subsequently approved by the city's Board of Estimates. Matricciani said in his ruling that a temporary injunction is not needed because tax bills are not due until Oct. 1. Instead, he set a hearing in the case for July 19.

For every $100,000 in assessed value, a resident or business owner in the district pays $120 into a fund for the extra services. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the district's board met with more members to vote again on its decision.

Community activist Joan Floyd, the lead plaintiff on the suit, said she was satisfied with the court's decision, even though the preliminary injunction was denied.

"We're pleased that the judge recognized that this issue needs to be resolved quickly," she said.

John Fritze

Federal court

Two women plead guilty in fraud plot

Two Baltimore women pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday in their involvement in a scheme to defraud the University of Maryland Medical Center and its program intended to encourage employees to recruit new workers, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Federal prosecutors said the women - Samantha White, 33, and Candice DeShields, 26 - sought to obtain referral bonuses from the medical center for new employees, even though they did not know the new workers. White, a nursing assistant on the pediatric floor, received almost $78,000 in bonuses, keeping between $12,000 and $24,000 and giving the rest to another person whom prosecutors did not identify. DeShields, a secretary, received bonuses of almost $18,000, keeping about $3,000 and giving the rest to the other person, according to prosecutors. The investigation is continuing. White and DeShields are to be sentenced in September.

Conservation

Water-use limits no longer needed

Voluntary water conservation measures requested during repair of a 54-inch transmission line are no longer necessary in the areas of ZIP codes 21227, 21228, 21229 and 21250, the city Department of Public Works announced yesterday. Conservation had been requested to ensure adequate water pressure as an additional pump was brought on line at the city system's Leakin Park pumping station. The pump and reduced demand because of the recent rains enabled the city to drop the request - but the department said mandatory water restrictions remain for portions of Anne Arundel and Howard counties until lifted by those jurisdictions.

Anne Arundel: Politics

Top prosecutor to seek 5th term

Anne Arundel County's top prosecutor, Frank R. Weathersbee, announced yesterday that he plans to seek a fifth term. Weathersbee, a Democrat, was appointed to the post in 1988 after his predecessor, Warren B. Duckett, became a circuit judge. In a news release, Weathersbee, 62, emphasized his more than 30 years of public service. He has worked as a county prosecutor since 1969. He also highlighted his efforts to enhance victims' rights. Republican lawyer David W. Fischer, 36, announced last week that he is challenging Weathersbee. Fischer ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002.

Annie Linskey

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