Baltimore County finished the year that ended June 30 with a $280 million surplus, $25 million more than expected, thanks mostly to a robust real estate market that is beginning to lose steam, county officials said yesterday.
Most of the surplus money came from taxes associated with real estate transactions, with the rest coming from property and income taxes, according to County Auditor Brian J. Rowe.
About $76 million will be locked in a reserve fund set aside for emergencies. The rest of the surplus will be used for capital projects, such as school construction and to help fund the benefits of future retirees, said Donald I. Mohler, a spokesman for County Executive James T. Smith Jr.
Mohler said it was "premature" to discuss whether Smith, a Democrat seeking a second term, would consider using some of the surplus money to cut the county's property tax rate, which, after a slight reduction this year, is $1.10 per $100 of assessed value.
"The reason the county has been able to avoid the ups and downs of tax increases and decreases is because we've taken a conservative approach to budgeting," Mohler said. He added that the real estate market in Baltimore County, as in other parts of Maryland and the country, is showing signs of decline.
Man found dead in parking lot
A man was found stabbed to death Monday night in the parking lot of a business park in Baltimore County, police said yesterday.
Floyd Harp, 46, of the 1900 block of Ramblewood Road in Baltimore, was found dead shortly before 10:30 p.m. Monday in a parking lot at the White Marsh Business Park, in the 7900 block of Honeygo Blvd., according to Baltimore County police.
Police had been called to the business park on a report of an unconscious man in the parking lot, but they arrived to find the man dead from an apparent stab wound to his upper body, authorities said. Detectives conducted interviews throughout the night to try to identify a motive and a suspect. No arrests had been made.
Anyone with information is asked to call county police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7 LOCKUP. Those calling Metro Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000.
Fire damages snack bar
A two-alarm fire early yesterday damaged a snack bar that has been a fixture in Middle River for more than half a century.
At 5:45 a.m., Baltimore County fire officials responded to a call for a fire at Coffman's Snack Bar in the 2100 block in Orems Road. William Coffman, a third-generation operator of the family business, said an apparent malfunction with a grill sparked the fire and that grease fueled the blaze. He said damage was confined to the main cooking area and an upstairs apartment and said that he hoped to have the restaurant reopen in about two weeks.
No one was injured in the fire, officials said.
Woman killed in car crash
One woman was killed, and a man was injured in a car crash early yesterday in Kingsville, county police said.
Shortly before 3 a.m., James Donithan, 24, of the 12200 block of Claydent Lane in Kingsville was traveling near Bel Air Road and Sunshine Avenue with passenger Carlyn Iannuzzi, 21, of the 1100 block of Pfeffers Road, when he lost control of his 1999 Honda Civic, police said. The car hit an embankment, slid across Sunshine Avenue and struck a tree, county police said.
Iannuzzi died at the scene, police said. Donithan was flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center and was in serious condition, police said.
School bus study conducted
In response to community concern about a plan to build a school bus depot in Jacksonville, Baltimore County police conducted a study on Paper Mill Road that found drivers generally obeying the 40 mph speed limit, police said yesterday.
Officers checked the speeds of more than 3,500 cars earlier this month, recording averages for three days ranging from 36.9 mph to 38.3 mph, police said.
Buses from four schools would be parked at the depot, behind the senior center on Paper Mill Road, and two above-ground fuel tanks would be located there. The property is near an Exxon station that was the site of a large gasoline leak earlier this year. Baltimore County officials have said highway engineers would conduct a traffic study in the area, and meet with residents, before the project moves forward.
Man fined for transporting waste
A Pikesville man has been fined for leaving four drums of a flammable substance at a trash bin, the state attorney general's office said yesterday.
Mark Langrehr, 56, of the 200 block of Church Lane, was convicted Wednesday in Baltimore County Circuit Court of transporting hazardous waste without a hauler's certificate, according to court records and the attorney general's office. Langrehr pleaded guilty to moving the drums, which contained flammable organic peroxide, from a rental property he owns on Old Milford Road to a trash bin in the 1200 block of Greenwood Road in Pikesville, according to the attorney general's office.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull II fined Langrehr $20,000, with $10,000 of the payment suspended, ordered him to perform 50 hours of community service and placed him on one year of supervised probation, the attorney general's office said.
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