Arundel council kills bill to create special construction fund

Benoit had sought allocation to fund Crofton-area high school

May 05, 2014|By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun

The Anne Arundel County Council killed a bill Monday night that would have set up a special fund for construction projects — including the possibility of funding another public high school.

By a 3-4 vote, the council defeated a bill from Councilman Jamie Benoit, who offered the measure as a way to raise money for a 13th public high school in the Crofton area — a proposal that so far has gone unfunded by the county and state, despite pleas from parents in the western part of the county.

The bill would have diverted a 2.5 percent of the local income tax that the county receives into the new fund. Benoit estimated the bill would set aside at least $10 million per year into the new fund.

County Executive Laura Neuman's administration has opposed the bill, saying it could potentially become a "concrete slush fund" to fund projects outside of the normal funding process.

Don Murphy, Neuman's lobbyist, said Monday the bill was nothing more than "election eve symbolism" designed to win votes.

Benoit bristled at that suggestion and noted he's not running for office due to term limits.

Murphy also suggested the bill, if passed, would "invite" a tax increase and that should be a reason to vote against it. When he proposed the bill, Benoit said that if it passed, he would follow up with a companion proposal to increase the local income tax rate.

Benoit was joined in voting for the bill by Councilman Jerry Walker, a Republican who represents Crofton, and Councilman Chris Trumbauer, an Annapolis Democrat.

Voting against the bill were Councilmen Daryl Jones, a Severn Democrat; Derek Fink, a Pasadena Republican; Richard Ladd, a Broadneck Republican; and Chairman John Grasso, a Glen Burnie Republican.

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