Craig promises curb on growth

February 21, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

Harford County Executive David R. Craig reiterated his pledge to hold the line on county development while offering some insight into his forthcoming budget proposal in his State of the County address last night.

Craig, a Republican appointed to fill a vacancy in 2005 and elected to a full term in November, began his remarks to the County Council with a promise to improve communication with citizens through a beefed-up Web site featuring more government documents and information.

"I realize limited notices in the local paper are not adequate when it comes to keeping Harford County's diverse and evolving population informed and involved in their local government," he said.

The majority of Craig's speech was a rhetorical tour of the county's agencies and their successes. He praised the county's recycling and community services programs, and mentioned a list of parks and recreation projects.

Craig said public safety and education would continue to be his top priorities. He said he would work to fund a new pay scale for sheriff's deputies and add 60 new positions for the agency over the next four years. But he dodged making any commitments to the school system, which is seeking a 12 percent budget increase that would help pay for more than 100 new teachers.

The executive said he envisions county spending of $800 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Last year, Craig's State of the County speech came in the midst of debate over a countywide rezoning bill. He would later veto the bill, stalling a slate of development projects and angering the business community.

With four new faces on the seven-member council, Craig again vowed to slow development and have the comprehensive rezoning process completed within 30 months after the county zoning code is rewritten.

County Council President Billy Boniface, who followed with his legislative address, said Harford must be prepared to enter into more public-private parternships to finance needed school projects instead of depending on borrowing through bonds.

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