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Chad Shrodes Guest Speaker at May Mason-Dixon Meeting

Harford County Councilman Chad Shrodes outlined legislative changes brought about both at the state and county levels when he was the stand-in guest speaker at the May meeting of the Mason-Dixon Business Association.

Stepping in as luncheon speaker for Sen. Barry Glassman, who remained in Annapolis to deal with legislative matters, Shrodes presented Glassman's report as well as his own county-level information to about 30 representatives of area businesses.

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On Glassman's behalf, Shrodes told of the negative impact of doubling the "flush tax," the new state-mandated waste water management tax imposed on counties, as well as the maintenance-of-effort bill, which will allow the state comptroller to redirect county money collected by the state (notably property taxes) directly to boards of education if the state feels the county has failed to fund education properly.

Glassman's report, as presented by Shrodes, also described the new septic bill which requires counties to establish separate septic system classifications for planning purposes. The senator's report said that means that northern Harford County could see a 30-to-40-percent reduction in development potential, which will impact property values and farmers' capital borrowing abilities.

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To combat the limitations somewhat, Shrodes said Harford County plans to establish a program allowing transfer of development rights.

"Transfer of development rights should be a great thing, but to buy what you already have — that's not right," said the councilman of the new state limitations on rights property owners previously had.

On a positive note, Shrodes said that Glassman reports he was able to get approved in the Maryland General Assembly a new farm brew license for Maryland, which allows farmers to use winter barley, wheat and hops for farm breweries making craft beers.

He also described the new Towson University 2+2 program in partnership with Harford Community College which allows HCC students to attend the local campus and complete their Towson degrees thanks to a building and program at the Harford campus.

In a related effort to bring higher education to the county, Glassman's report also reviewed a Northeast Regional Education Advisory Board that's expected to start planning a research park and job development initiatives.

Speaking from the county perspective, Shrodes said Harford faces the dilemma of funding 100 percent of teachers' pensions in 2016 and that library financial support has been cut.

Regarding positive issues, he said the county crime rate is the lowest in Maryland and a new funding plan will result in three library branches being open on Sundays.

He described various problem intersections he personally worked to improve, such as the one at St. Marys Road in Pylesville, the scene of fatal accidents.

Shrodes told of the county's $7.8-million capital project to lay fiber optic cable for public and police buildings for improved Internet service.

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