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Hogan's budget keeps city reimbursement funds steady

Amanda Yeager
Contact Reporterayeager@capgaznews.com

Under Gov. Larry Hogan's proposed budget for fiscal 2018, Annapolis doesn't receive an increase in money the state pays to help cover the costs of being the capital city.

But the governor is proposing $1 million for a new Annapolis library.

And the city could see statues of two of the nation's most prominent abolitionists added to the State House grounds.

In Anne Arundel County, Hogan's budget includes $21.2 million for school construction projects, but cuts a mandate that would reinstate challenge grants for teachers, provided the county offers up matching funds.

The proposals are among the local line items in the Republican governor's $43.5 billion budget, which he provided details on Wednesday.

The spending plan keeps funding steady for reimbursements to Annapolis through the Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, program, despite a request from Mayor Michael Pantelides for the state to shoulder more of the cost of police, firefighters, road improvement projects and other infrastructure necessary to keep the capital running smoothly.

Pantelides, who made his case for increased PILOT funding to the Anne Arundel delegation on Friday, wrote to Hogan in September asking the governor to raise the state's contribution from $367,000 a year to $1.25 million.

He estimated that Annapolis pays more than $2.6 million in purchases and services related to state government each year. Unlike local businesses and homes, the more than 50 state-owned buildings in the city aren't required to pay property taxes that offset infrastructure costs.

Among the extra services the city provides are a hazmat team, an additional fire truck and police coverage for rallies at state facilities and special events, such as the governor's inauguration.

The request was the only one Pantelides, a Republican, made this year.

He said the flat funding proposal "doesn't come as a surprise."

"Obviously, we're upset we didn't get money, though we certainly understand the governor's cutting spending," he said.

Hogan and the General Assembly face a $544 million deficit this year, which is already creating tension between the governor and lawmakers about which programs and projects should be funded, and which should be cut.

Pantelides was optimistic the city could see a bump in PILOT money as part of a supplemental budget before the process is over. He also said he is looking into the possibility of moving money from other state-funded projects to go toward infrastructure costs.

Among Hogan's other proposals for Annapolis is $1 million for a new Annapolis Library, which is currently in the design phase, according to the Anne Arundel County Public Library system's website.

The current library is set to close this fall, and the new building is projected to be ready to open in late winter or early spring 2019.

Money to plan and build statues of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman on the capital grounds is also included in Hogan's budget.

The proposal follows calls last session and this year for memorials to the two Maryland natives, both former slaves who became prominent voices against slavery.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh earlier this month endorsed an effort to build a statue of Douglass, who once owned a summer home in Highland Beach, facing an existing statue of Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, another Maryland native, former U.S. Supreme Court chief justice and author of the majority opinion in the infamous Dred Scott case, which ruled that African-Americans had no constitutional rights.

Hogan said he supported commemorating Douglass and Tubman last year. In a statement to the Baltimore Sun, a spokesman said he "is proud to honor both Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass with statues and portraits in Government House, and he and Lt. Gov. Rutherford would gladly support additional honors in the State House as well."

The governor's budget proposes to cut challenge grants that were included in last year's budget at the last minute, as part of a bill increasing stipends for National Board-certified teachers.

The law made state matching funds of up to $1,500 per grant available to teachers in county public middle and high schools where at least 30 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. It requires the grants to be available in fiscal years 2017 through 2019.

But the school system and Schuh administration have not taken any steps to take advantage of the money.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said funding for the challenge grants was not included in Superintendent George Arlotto's fiscal 2018 proposal.

Because they are a form of compensation, Mosier said, challenge grants would need to be included in contract negotiations between the school board and the teachers' union — both of which had been supportive of eliminating the grants in favor of increasing pay for all teachers in 2015.

Hogan made it clear last year that he felt the grants were overreaching on the part of the legislature.

Though he allowed the measure to pass into law without his signature, he said he disagreed with using a bill focused on statewide education policy as "a vehicle for the General Assembly to intervene in a labor dispute at the local level."

Because the stipends are a legislative mandate, their elimination would first have to be approved by the General Assembly as part of a separate Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, or BRFA.

School construction projects in Hogan's capital budget include planning and construction funds for four elementary schools, kindergarten additions at Shady Side and Park elementaries and systemic improvements at seven schools. The proposal addresses $21.2 million of the $69.87 million in construction project requests made this year by the school system — though more projects are likely to be funded after the annual "Begathon" at the Board of Public Works, scheduled for later this month.

The governor's budget also includes money for several local channel dredging projects, Annapolis harbor improvements, Historic Annapolis renovations and a sewer project connecting Annapolis and the Mayo peninsula.

Other capital projects include:

•Health Sciences and Biology Building for Anne Arundel Community College: $6.8 million

•Annapolis Post Office Renovation: $5.2 million

•High Point Elementary School: $4.7 million

•Shady Side Elementary School: $2.6 million

•Manor View Elementary School: $2.5 million

•Millersville Elementary School: $2.1 million

•Woodside Elementary School: $1.9 million

•Park Elementary School: $1.6 million

•Brock Bridge Elementary School: $1.5 million

•Jessup Elementary School: $1 million

•Marley Elementary School: $803,000

•Belvedere Elementary School: $538,000

•Meade Middle School: $500,000

•Lindale Middle School: $448,000

Glen Burnie High School: $384,000

Severna Park High School: $358,000

•Anne Arundel Central Holding and Processing Center: $1.8 million

•St. John's College (McDowell Hall renovation): $2.5 million

•Mayo Water Reclamation Facility Biological Nutrient Removal: $1.3 million

•Historic Annapolis Renovation: $1 million

•New Annapolis Library: $1 million

Baltimore Washington Medical Center Inc. Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment Center Renovation: $577,000

•Broadwater Creek Main Channel Dredging: $526,575

•Anne Arundel Health System — Rebecca Clatanoff Pavilion for Women's and Children's Services Renovation: $472,000

•Anne Arundel Health System — Pathways Treatment Center Renovation: $118,000

•Jessup Region Electrical Infrastructure Upgrade: $467,000

•State Water Tower (Crownsville Front Tank): $430,000

•Carrs Creek Main Channel Dredging: $407,500

•Supported Housing Developers,Inc. Supported Housing Acquisition: $328,500

•Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass statues at the State House: $300,000

•Parrish Creek Boat Ramp and Floating Pier: $250,000

•Owensville Primary Care, Inc. — Renovate and Equip Facility: $133,996

•Franklin Point Park Shoreline Improvements: $120,000

•City of Annapolis Harbor Improvements: $50,000

•Long View Community Shoreline Improvements: $15,000

The budget goes next to the General Assembly, which must come to an agreement with the governor on spending by April 3.

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