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Budget additions omit two Hagerstown projects

March 30, 2001

Budget additions omit two Hagerstown projects



By LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Two downtown Hagerstown projects won't get state funding this year because they didn't make Gov. Parris Glendening's final list of additions to the 2002 budget.

Backers of a proposed Civil War museum had hoped to be part of the $157.8 million supplemental budget Glendening announced Friday.

In addition, Washington County business leaders had asked Glendening to jump-start their $4.4 million plan to improve the West Washington Street neighborhood where the state is building a University System of Maryland satellite education center.

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Although there wasn't room for the projects in this year's $21 billion budget, Glendening spokesman Michael Morrill didn't rule out state funding next year.

"We are very, very disappointed," said Dennis Frye, spokesman for the nonprofit Antietam Creek Coalition that proposed the $46 million museum.

The lack of state funding is a setback that will make it more difficult to raise money, but the coalition hasn't given up on building the museum in Washington County, he said.

"We still believe that this is a quality project for a quality community, and we are hopeful that the future will bring new opportunity and new hope," Frye said.

The supplemental budget did contain money for one Washington County project - a new 24-bed juvenile detention center being built near the state prison complex south of Hagerstown.

The $400,000 is to cover cost overruns in the $7 million project, Morrill said.

Many of Glendening's budget additions were for statewide programs. They include:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $6.5 million to help senior citizens cope with the rising cost of prescription drugs. The legislature is still finalizing details of the plan.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $30 million to expand services for the mentally ill using the proceeds of a tax amnesty program.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $16.2 million to raise salaries for nonprofit employees who work with the developmentally disabled.

The budget also included $2.1 million to pay half the cost of a uniform statewide voting system. The counties will pick up the other half of the cost.

The single largest project was $23.7 million for an addition to the House of Delegates office building. House members have expressed envy of the Senate's new office building that opened this year.

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr.'s home county of Allegany got $2.3 worth of capital projects.

Most of the other capital projects were in Baltimore city, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County.

There was nothing for Frederick County, Md.

Morrill said the supplemental budget was smaller this year than in past years because of a smaller surplus.

Responding to fears of an economic slowdown, the state also decided to delay an additional $30 million in capital spending until new economic figures are released in December.

Earlier this month, Glendening announced $130 million worth of projects on hold, including the renovation of the Baldwin House complex for the University System of Maryland.

No decisions have been made about the new projects that will be delayed, he said.

Now that the budget additions have been released, fiscal leaders in the legislature will make final decisions on the budget this weekend in hopes of holding final votes in the House and Senate on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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