ANNAPOLIS – Carroll County lawmakers voted Tuesday night to ask the Maryland Assembly for $28.5 million in bonds for capital improvement projects and for laws to strengthen alcoholic beverage licensing.
Carroll County commissioners submitted these recommendations to the state lawmakers after developing them during a public meeting in the county on Saturday.
One of the bonding projects is a $12.8 million joint state-county effort to build a new classroom building for Carroll County Community College.
The remainder of the $28.5 million would pay for road improvements, school repairs and a new high school in the southeastern part of the county, according to Steven Powell, the county’s director of management and budget.
The six-member delegation also agreed to ask for $950,000 for construction of a new Carroll County agricultural center building. The neighborhood advisory committee, established to address community concerns related to the building, announced Tuesday that it supported the project.
Because the Carroll County assembly delegation did not have a final list of projects, they approved the request with the stipulation that the final amount cannot exceed $28.5 million.
The delegation also agreed to submit a bill to the assembly that allows the Board of License Commissioners to both assess fines as high as $2,000 and to suspend the alcohol licenses of holders who violate beverage laws. Under current law, the board could choose only one punishment.
Carroll County lawmakers also approved another proposed alcohol law change to increase the fee for temporary beer, wine, or liquor licenses from $30 to $50 per day.
After a friendly debate, the delegation delayed a decision on whether to introduce a bill that would give local health officials the authority to punish individuals who let trash accumulate on their property.
Only state health officials have the authority to impose a daily fine on convicted trash-law violators. Local health officials have long complained that the state often takes months to levy those fines. County officials say giving local officials the authority to impose a $10-a-day fine would help speed the process.
“Why do we want to go to the big guys in Annapolis every time we have a problem,” asked Sen. Timothy R. Ferguson, R-Carroll. “This is a local issue.”
But Delegates Nancy R. Stocksdale, R-Carroll, and Carmen Amedori, R-Carroll, strongly disagreed with the proposal. Stocksdale said she feared the law would allow local officials to go overboard in enforcing nuisance- abatement laws.
“I’m just a little concerned about giving the health department more power,” she said. “I feel the health department may go over and above what the state does.”
Amedori had a problem with the law because she felt the proposal targets only the worst offenders and subjects the majority of law-abiding citizens to an unfair standard.
“It’s a bad law based on the extreme,” she said. “We should not be skirting the state (procedures) based on the extreme case.”
Sen. Larry Haines, also a Carroll Republican, who heads the delegation, supported the bill along with Ferguson. Delegates Donald B. Elliot, R-Carroll, and Joseph M. Getty, R-Carroll, said they needed more information on the specifics of the bill.
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