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County gains a pretty impressive haul from Annapolis

Barry Rascovar
Barry Rascovar

At the end of Maryland's General Assembly session earlier this month, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz declared victory and lauded his achievements.

These included more school aid and a new, sudsy industry coming to the county's west side — the U.S. headquarters of the famous Guinness beer company that would combine beer-making, a tourist destination and an Irish-style taproom.

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It took considerable negotiating, but now Guinness is free to convert a former whiskey plant on Washington Boulevard into its first U.S. brew-and-tour location. The goal is to create a unique experience that quickly becomes a popular destination similar to Guinness's historic St. James' Gate brewing facility in Dublin.

Legislative action welcoming Guinness also could lead to expanded taprooms for other Baltimore County brewers, including the Heavy Seas beer-making facility in Halethorpe.

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Less than a half-hour from Owings Mills and Reisterstown sits one of America's most fabled racetracks.

Yet, Pimlico Race Course is in need of an expe

Enough about beer.

There was plenty of nonalcoholic news in the State House for county residents to talk about.

Extra state grants were allocated to complete the air conditioning of Franklin High School ($2.9 million), Reisterstown Elementary School ($961,000) and Church Lane Elementary School ($961,000).

Bais Yaakov Middle School received a $100,000 matching grant and Ner Israel Rabbinical College got a $190,000 grant as well.

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Stevenson University saw the General Assembly approve a state plan to spend $5 million late next year on an environmental cleanup of the old Rosewood developmental disabilities campus off Reisterstown Road.

Another $6 million in abatement work is scheduled for the following year in hopes of getting the property ready to turn over to the university, which has major plans for the site as part of its growing campus on Owings Mills Boulevard.

There's also going to be an expansion of the Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery nearby, thanks to $7.7 million in federal funds included in the state's budget.

All told, Baltimore County will receive $839 million from the state in the fiscal year starting July 1.

That sum of state aid amounts to $895 per county resident.

Put another way, without this financial support from the state, the county's $1.10 property tax rate would be 88 cents higher.

Not surprisingly, the vast bulk of state funds goes toward education and health care.

Primary and secondary education will receive $660 million next year, a $21.6 million increase. Another $6 million will go toward our library branches, and $43.6 million for the Community College of Baltimore County, including CCBC's busy Owings Mills center.

The second-biggest aid program is health care, with money allocated to help individuals with chronic diseases, developmental disabilities, behavioral health issues, child welfare problems (including foster care) as well as people on medical assistance.

There's nothing that raises the interest-level — and emotions — of parents and politicians more than the quality of education offered Baltimore

Additionally, the state pays a big chunk of retirement money to local teachers, librarians and staff at CCBC — $95.2 million in the coming year.

There's also $12.8 million allocated for the county police department, $1.7 million for fire and rescue services and $4.9 million for the county's recreation and natural resources programs.

Plus, there will be some big university construction projects in Baltimore County over the next year.

Towson University received the OK to spent $10 million on residence tower renovations, $26 million for a new science building and a $39 million addition and renovation to the TU student union building.

Meanwhile, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County got legislative approval for a $40.2 million science building and an $11 million events center.

Not a bad haul from the state capital.

It even helped Kamenetz announce that his new budget for county government won't contain any tax increases — always a winner for a politician thinking about running for higher office!

Barry Rascovar's blog is www.politicalmaryland.com. He can be reached at brascovar@hotmail.com.



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