"We have no intention of changing that, so we don't anticipate anyone having reason to change things on their end," Schaefer wrote in an email. "That's why we had no issue with the county having that continued authority."

Jean Parker, Merriweather general manager, said the center hasn't been cited for a noise complaint in 20 years. She said management wanted the bill only to ensure that it could continue to operate as it has, even as new developments are built on land closer to the pavilion than other nearby apartments and office buildings.

"The main point is nothing is changing," Parker said. "We're not looking to play louder. On the flip side, we're not looking to play any softer. … So we're happy."

Tax credits, union option


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Property owners may be eligible for tax credits for fixing up their buildings, as a measure approved in Annapolis gives the county authority to make these arrangements to improve certain neighborhoods.

Jeremy Baker, a legislative aide for County Executive Ken Ulman, said the administration wanted the bill to promote commercial redevelopment along U.S. 1, but he said details of where and how it will be applied will be worked out by the County Council.

The administration also asked for the bill to allow public library employees to unionize, Baker said. He said Ulman "strongly believes in the right to collective bargaining for public employees."

According to a library spokeswoman, the law would allow most of the public library's 184 employees to organize and bargain for pay and benefits. Of the $18.5 million budget for the six-branch system, about 80 percent goes to salaries and benefits. The county pays nearly 90 percent of the cost of running the system.

Salaries will go up for the county sheriff and for the three judges of the Orphans' Court based on other measures approved during the session.

After the current term of office is over in 2014, the sheriff's pay — frozen since 2010 — will jump from $85,000 this year to $97,000 by 2018.

Also starting in 2014, pay for Orphans' Court judges — not raised since 2002 — will increase from $8,000 to $10,000 for the two judges and from $9,500 to $11,500 for the chief judge.

Bond bills for several construction projects were included in the state capital budget. These included $250,000 for a playground at Blandair Regional Park; $150,000 for a restroom, storage and parking area at Middle Patuxent Environmental Area, both in Columbia; and $200,000 toward the cost of a second transitional home run by the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County.

A project to restore buildings at the historic Belmont property in Elkridge received $125,000, half of the sum requested in the original bill.

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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