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Senate gives nod to grants for nonprofits

March 28, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - The Maryland Senate has singled out four Washington County community projects for state grants this year.

Although the Washington County Humane Society was slighted, local lawmakers are hoping the group's animal shelter can still be added to the state bond bill program.

Under a state Senate proposal, the YMCA would get $250,000, Children's Village would get $75,000, Hagerstown Fairgrounds would get $75,000 and the Agricultural Education Center would get $75,000.

However, the House of Delegates will make its own proposal this week, which lawmakers hope will include the Humane Society. If the two proposals are different, a conference committee will decide which groups will get grants.

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Members of the Washington County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly set priorities among the requests for decision-makers in both chambers.

They placed the Humane Society's $125,000 request second only to the YMCA.

But Capital Budget Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Thomas M. Middleton, D-Charles, decided to break from the list.

"That's the way it's done in the Senate," said Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, who is a member of the subcommittee.

Munson said he suggested the subcommittee reduce other Washington County bond bills to give money to the shelter.

Middleton said he didn't want to spread the money so thinly that none of the organizations would be helped.

Middleton had already halved the requests from the other Washington County organizations, except for Children's Village.

The Senate was faced with paring down $113 million in statewide grant requests to $18.9 million, he said.

Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, said she will work to get the Humane Society included in the House's bond bill proposal.

Hecht said she will also try to increase the YMCA's grant from $250,000. The nonprofit asked for $500,000 toward its new center on Eastern Boulevard.

Hecht said those priorities are more important than the Hagerstown Fairgrounds, for which the Senate earmarked $75,000.

The fairgrounds was last on the delegation's priority list. Local lawmakers have said that nonprofits should take precedence over municipalities, which can take advantage of other statewide grant programs.

Munson said that City Engineer Bruce Johnston won over Middleton with his presentation.

"It's only in there because of Bruce Johnston. He presented a compelling case for the money," Munson said.

The Senate also denied funding to the Hagerstown Police Athletic League, which asked for $122,752 to help build an outdoor sports facility at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

PAL's request also was low on the delegation's priority list.

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