Around The Region

April 30, 2009

Nuclear reactor recommended

An official charged with weighing the pros and cons of building a third nuclear reactor at the Calvert Cliffs power plant recommended Wednesday that state energy regulators approve the project. Constellation Energy Group and a French partner are seeking permission to expand Constellation's plant in Calvert County, work that Gov. Martin O'Malley and others say will help address a predicted electricity shortage while slowing customer rate increases. The approval proposed Wednesday by Public Service Commission hearing examiner Joel M. Bright will become final May 29, unless the commission or one of the parties objects.

Matthew Hay Brown

Bereano accepts admonishment

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Annapolis lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano has settled a years-long fight over an alleged ethics violation by accepting an admonishment from the state ethics commission - but no formal finding of wrongdoing and no restrictions on his practice. Under the settlement terms made public Wednesday, Bereano agrees to reimburse the commission about $29,000 in expenses and is admonished to be more careful in how he crafts fee agreements with clients. In 2002, the ethics panel ruled that Bereano had violated Maryland law by having a contingency agreement with one of his clients. The commission imposed a $5,000 fine and a 10-month suspension of Bereano's license. The lobbyist fought for years to clear his name, and in March 2008, the state's highest court reversed lower-court rulings that upheld the sanctions against Bereano.

FOR THE RECORD - An article that appeared on page 6 of Thursday's news section incorrectly stated that Baltimore may be able to use $13 million of $40 million in recently discovered funds for current and future budget needs. The city's charter caps surpluses carried from one year to the next at 1 percent of the city's $1.3 billion general fund operating budget. Last year's total surplus was $53 million (the "found" $40 million plus $13 million from other sources). That means this year's budget already includes a $13 million surplus and the rest of the $40 million must go toward reducing the city's planned bond purchases. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

Gadi Dechter

City may have leeway using found millions

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Baltimore may be able to use roughly $13 million of the nearly $40 million in unexpected surplus funds to plug holes in this and next year's city budgets, according to an opinion issued Wednesday by the city's law department. Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon had earlier said the funds must be used to reduce the city's scheduled $75 million bond sale. But at a lunch hosted by Dixon last week, City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake pressed the city's law department to determine if any of those funds could be used to extend pool hours, keep recreation and child care centers open or increase fire or police overtime funds next year. The $40 million surplus was discovered after the city's finance department realized last summer that funds from partially paid property taxes had not been moved into the general fund for nearly a decade. It was publicly disclosed in an audit. The surplus will be the subject of a City Council hearing Thursday.

Annie Linskey

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