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Residents question priorities in capital budget Ecker's planned cuts in spending criticized


Glenwood Middle School in western Howard County is more than 29 years old and has never had a renovation. Last night, more than two dozen parents, students, teachers and staff at the school made sure the county Planning and Zoning Board knows they want something done about it.

The renovation project -- included in a request for $5 million in upgrades at eight county schools -- was among dozens of items that brought comments at a two-hour public hearing last night. The meeting was the first step toward approval of the county's capital budget for fiscal year 1998.

Other items included road repairs, landfill treatment, park upgrades, a renovation of police headquarters and a new fire station.

The budget proposal is made up of requests from county agency department heads and totals more than $94 million.

The school board's capital budget request for the fiscal year, which begins July 1, is $35 million. But County Executive Charles I. Ecker has said he plans to cut that by as much as $20 million, with an emphasis on slashing school renovation projects that don't add classroom seats.

Terry Chacones, president of the Glenwood Parent Teacher Student Association, said, "We cannot accept the premise that adding new schools to our school system is the only answer..

"A lack of investment in our old school and others like it in our county will only create a more costly and time-consuming project in later years."

Several Columbia residents denounced the diminished funding set aside for a controversial cloverleaf interchange at Snowden River Parkway and Route 175, where shopping centers and on-going construction of homes nearby has led to a dramatic increase in traffic.

Initially, the county had pledged $16 million for construction of the interchange, but that figure was slashed by $6 million in the capital budget, which calls for equal state matching funds to make up the remaining costs.

On another item, residents denounced Ecker's plans to cut back on funding for an impermeable plastic cover on the Alpha Ridge Landfill in Marriottsville.

Pub Date: 2/11/97

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