Balto. Co. seeks boost in spending


With a bit of tinkering, Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III has added $12 million to next year's proposed capital budget, largely for school construction and improvements to the county's older communities.

The new county executive is expected to deliver the bricks-and-mortar spending plan along with his first operating budget today. Both require final approval by the County Council, which may cut money from his requests but may not increase spending.

The county planning board had recommended a $149.1 million capital budget, but Mr. Ruppersberger added $8.8 million and proposed spending another $3.3 million in bond money approved by voters in past years but never spent.

The executive reversed a decision by the planning board, deciding to spend $4.1 million for a new Southwest Area Elementary School rather than $11.1 million to reopen Catonsville Middle School. He also proposed spending $364,000 on engineering work for a new Painters Mill Elementary School.

He said he decided against the Catonsville Middle School proposal after conferring with community leaders because the project was unlikely to get matching state funds. He said state officials have indicated that they would approve a new elementary school.

The executive also wants $3.5 million for the county's Community Conservation Program to be spent on improvements to roads, storm drains, buildings and recreation facilities in older communities. The program got its start last year with $100,000 in county funds and a matching amount from the private sector. This is the first year the program will be infused with bond money.

Budget Director Fred Homan said the additional community conservation money will come in part from the operating budget and in part from capital funds that were freed by unexpected state aid.

The county executive also increased the proposed spending for alley improvements from the $1.8 million recommended by the planning board to $5 million.

By adding $3.3 million in unspent bond money to the proposed capital budget, Mr. Ruppersberger responded to criticism that older communities were being left to deteriorate while the county sat on money it could be using.

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