ANNAPOLIS – Eastern Shore mayors, meeting with the region’s lawmakers Friday, appealed for increased funding for municipal police and greater authority over historic sites.
The meeting was part of a two-day conference for Maryland mayors in Annapolis, to bring municipal and state leaders together.
Easton Mayor George P. Murphy called the meeting a good opportunity to communicate. “We want to let them know we have problems too,” he said.
Other mayors attending included: Chestertown Mayor Margo Bailey, Pocomoke City Mayor Chinita McAllister, Hurlock Mayor Don Bradley, Rock Hall Mayor Rosalie Kuechler, Betterton Mayor Carolyn Sorge, Millington Mayor Dennis Hager and Princess Anne Commission President Garland Hayward.
Murphy brought special attention to police force funding.
In 1992, the State Aid for Police Protection Fund allocated $6 million to municipalities statewide. This represented about 10 percent of total municipal police expenditures across Maryland.
Bills before the House and Senate would change the distribution of the state aid, Murphy noted.
The legislation would increase the police aid supplemental grant to counties from $2 per capita to $3 per capita and the municipal officer allocation from $900 per officer to $1,500 per officer.
The bills repeat legislation that was passed but vetoed last year.
Counties share the supplemental per capita grant with municipalities. The $1 per capita increase would cost the state about $5 million each year, with about $600,000 slated for municipalities and $4.4 million for counties.
The $600 per officer increase in the municipal officer allocation would cost the state $780,000 annually.
Total state aid to local government for police services was $36.3 million in 1992, $27.2 million in 1993 and $43.7 million in 1994. For 1995, the amount is projected at $52.5 million.
Because funding is based on what was spent the previous year, Murphy said, the current system favors police agencies with high overhead and higher paid personnel — in other words, counties more than municipalities.
But municipalities are facing increased public safety needs, given increases in population density, Murphy argued.
Bailey, Chestertown’s mayor, raised the need for stronger municipal control of historic districts.
She said historic sites in the state’s municipalities are slowly falling into ruin because local governments have limited power over the properties.
Bailey urged support for bills in the House and Senate that would broadly expand the power of local historic district commissions. -30-