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First local bill gains approval

April 01, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

The Maryland Senate approved a pay increase for Washington County Orphans' Court judges Friday, the first local bill to pass both chambers this legislative session.

Other local bills are moving toward final approval as lawmakers prepare to wrap up their work one week from Monday.

Under legislation that unanimously was approved by the Senate on Friday and must now be signed by the governor, salaries of local Orphans Court judges will increase from $6,000 to $7,000 a year.

Judges' annual expense accounts will remain at $1,000, but the daily allowance for meals will increase from $18 to $30 and their room allowance will increase from $50 to $85.

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A second local bill got preliminary approval from the Senate on Friday.

That bill would allow the Washington County Commissioners to exempt Hagerstown Soccer Club Inc. from paying property taxes on its fields in Cearfoss. It has already passed the House.

Two more local bills have passed in the House and are awaiting Senate action. Those bills would:

- Increase the salary of Washington County Commissioners from $20,000 to $30,000 a year for the board elected in November. The commissioners president would make $33,000.

- Limit the terms for Washington County Museum of Fine Arts Board of Trustees members.

Hope is dimming for five local bond bills which would provide state grants to local nonprofit organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc. and Associated Builders and Contractors of the Cumberland Valley.

The Senate did not include any money for local bond bills in its version of the capital budget that was approved this week. The House is trying to find a way to pay for a limited number of local bills across the state.

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