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County pares down legislative 'wish list'

November 08, 2000

County pares down legislative 'wish list'



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


A controversial request that could require some property owners to get a cattery license was rejected Tuesday by the Washington County Commissioners.

"We've spent months on this stupid thing," Commissioner John L. Schnebly. "We have more important things to work on."

No vote was taken, but the consensus was against asking the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly for enabling authority to establish cattery license requirements.

That and other decisions were part of a larger discussion about the county's requests to the local delegation.

Also removed from the wish list were proposals to increase the salary of the sheriff and to update a statute regarding the treasurer's salary.

County Attorney Richard Douglas pointed out that a state Salary Study Commission, which has to meet at least once every four years, could help accomplish the same tasks.

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The county would still need legislation to raise the sheriff's salary, however.

Under the state constitution, a salary increase for a sheriff can only begin at the start of the next term of sheriff, which in this case is 2002, Douglas said. So it doesn't matter whether that legislation is obtained this year.

The county's legislative agenda will be presented to the delegation at a Nov. 17 joint meeting.

The 17-item agenda was narrowed down to 15 items but has not been adopted. It will be prioritized next week.

The requests they will consider include obtaining enabling authority to implement a county transfer tax and funding for runway extension-related work at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

The county has dropped proposals to install cattery requirements through county ordinance this year, but the commissioners were asked to consider seeking state legislative authority to implement such proposals in the future.

If approved, the cattery requirements would have become part of the animal control ordinance. While no specific cat limit was set for the cattery license requirement, a prior proposal called for it to be required of property owners with eight or more cats.

When the commissioners reached the animal control changes, with eight opponents sitting in the audience, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook asked, "Is the group interested in pursuing that or do we want to drop it?"

Following comments from Schnebly and others, the cattery idea was removed from the proposal.

Marie Wampler of Halfway, a former Washington County Animal Control Authority member, and others at the meeting said they were happy with the decision.

Another portion of the animal control proposal will go forward. The remaining section would switch some duties from the Animal Control Authority to the Humane Society of Washington County, which handles animal control for the county, Douglas said.

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