County outlines plea for state aid Ruppersberger to ask Assembly for $40 million; Most is for schools; Crime reduction, parkland also on 'essentials list'

THE BALTIMORE SUN

When the General Assembly convenes this month, Baltimore County will be seeking more than $40 million in state aid for school construction, new parkland and projects to revive older neighborhoods, County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger said yesterday.

Most of the money -- about $37 million -- is earmarked to build and expand schools, part of a county program to ease crowding. Other proposals, linked to a campaign to preserve neighborhoods, would help finance a community center in Hillendale, a teacher mentoring program used mainly on the west side, and improvements to the York Road commercial corridor.

"This is an essentials list," Ruppersberger stressed, not a "wish list."

Several crime-related proposals were also touted at a news conference outlining the county's legislative agenda. One would give residents wider access to the addresses of convicted child sex offenders. Another would ban after-hours, bring-your-own-liquor clubs such as the Towson-area's Club 101, which drew 200 police calls last year.

Ruppersberger also proposed allowing employees to bring job discrimination lawsuits against small businesses for violations of county laws -- closing a legal loophole.

But Ruppersberger left no question about the county's top priority.

"School construction, school construction, school construction!" he repeated for effect at one point. "We didn't get our fair share in the past. Now we are, but we have to stick together."

Based on the county's success last year presenting a united front and coming away with nearly $15 million, other jurisdictions will be adopting similar tactics, he warned. "Our success has not gone unnoticed."

This year's stated goal is $37 million, but county officials say they'll settle for $25 million for new schools, renovations and additions.

Because the county is devoting $89.6 million in bond funds to such projects, plus $14 million in operating budget money, Ruppersberger argues that he's not over-reaching.

County legislative leaders called Ruppersberger's goals practical and achievable.

"The package is realistic," said Essex Sen. Michael J. Collins, chairman of the county's senators. "It's a clearly thought-out and pragmatic approach to problem-solving."

House delegation chairman Joseph "Sonny" Minnick agreed. "I don't think we'll have any trouble getting these things."

And for a governor eager to strengthen older communities as a way of stemming suburban sprawl with his Smart Growth program, the proposals seem made to order.

They include requests for:

Nearly $4 million in state funds for 99 acres of parkland, two school sites and road work in Honeygo, the northeast county area where a planned community of 13,000 is to grow. The county is sinking $29 million into infrastructure there.

Ruppersberger says that buying the land before building begins is cheaper than waiting, as the county did in Owings Mills.

More than $2 million to help build two community centers. He asked the state to split the $3.4 million cost in Turners Station, the historic black enclave in Dundalk where a former school building is worn out, and contribute a third of the estimated $1.8 million cost in Hillendale.

$2 million for revitalization projects along the Liberty Road and York Road commercial corridors.

$750,000 for the fledgling Benjamin Banneker park near the Howard/Baltimore County line. The state money would match county funds to help equip a media room and pay for new bTC educational exhibits related to the 18th-century inventor, scientist and astronomer.

$1 million to expand a mentoring program that uses older, experienced teachers to counsel new ones at schools with high turnover -- mostly in older communities with a large percentage of African-American students.

Pub Date: 1/03/97

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