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Governor's capital budget has funds for county

January 21, 1997

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - Washington County schools, parks, sewer systems and other facilities would receive $6.16 million in state funds next year under Gov. Parris N. Glendening's proposed capital budget.

County projects to be funded under the capital budget unveiled Tuesday include renovation and addition to Lincolnshire Elementary School, $1.47 million; upgrading Hagerstown's wastewater treatment plant, $1 million, and $712,000 for work on a new District Court building.

"I think we did fairly well," said Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, who chairs the county's legislative delegation.

County schools would receive a total of $2.2 million from the state, including the funds for the Lincolnshire project and other smaller construction projects, and $195,000 in technology funds that would add computer networks to middle schools. School officials had anticipated the funding.

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"No surprises from our perspective," said county Schools Superintendent Wayne F. Gersen.

What didn't make the governor's list was $179,000 in state funds for a new air-conditioning system at E. Russell Hicks Middle School. The county bid to seek planning approval for the renovation of South Hagerstown High School also was rejected.

County officials will make appeals for both projects today before the state Board of Public Works.

The county's proposed appropriation accounted for less than 1 percent of a total $740 million construction spending plan that is weighted toward the metropolitan areas.

But Glendening said the entire state is represented in the budget.

"We are responding to immense needs out in the community," he said.

Some spending not specifically aimed at Washington County could have a local impact. That includes $27 million statewide for the "sunny day" fund aimed at attracting and retaining business. Part of that fund was used last year to help convince Staples Inc. to build its distribution center near Hagerstown.

Glendening also proposes spending $12.7 million on the state's agricultural land preservation program, which purchases easements from farmers to prevent land from being developed. Another $15.4 million would be used to protect additional open space as part of the governor's Rural Legacy Program.

Both are part of Glendening's plan to direct growth in areas already served by roads, sewers and schools, and away from undeveloped countryside. He cited the District Court project in downtown Hagerstown as an example of an attempt to guide development in the right areas.

"We'll put our state dollars in areas that help with the revitalization of existing communities," Glendening said.

The budget requires the approval of the General Assembly.

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