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County bills are studied

April 01, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS - Several Washington County bills approved by the Maryland House of Delegates made their way to Senate committees on Thursday, where they received a mostly positive hearing.

Presented by Washington County Delegation Chairman Christopher B. Shank, they included enabling legislation to allow the county government to:

· Add criminal sanctions to its animal control ordinance.

· Regulate alarm systems to cut down on false alarms. The county could assess fines for false alarms except when caused by severe weather conditions or during a 60-day window following installation.

· Regulate licensing and discipline of those engaged in electrical work. The county only licenses electricians now.

· Regulate non-noxious weeds above a certain height.

· Enter emergency contracts without going through the bidding process, similar to provisions in the state's procurement law. The county government asked for the bill in part as a result of problems with repairs to the bridge on Broadfording Road. After having to terminate the original contract, the county had to go through a rebidding process before work could be finished.

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· Raise the compensation for county election judges. A chief judge's compensation would rise from $125 to $175 per day, and other judges would see an increase from $100 to $150 per day. Substitute members of the county elections board would be paid $75 for each board meeting attended.

· Raise the Washington County Sheriff's salary to $80,000.

Another local bill would add representatives from the Cumberland Valley Associated Builders and Contractors and the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County to the county's salary study commission.

A bill to grant the town of Boonsboro eminent domain to clear blight drew some discussion in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Shank explained that the bill would allow Boonsboro to pursue revitalization in certain blocks of the town, and to save historic buildings facing what he called "demolition by neglect."

Sen. James Brochin, D-Baltimore County, asked how broad the town's powers would be, and Shank explained that town officials would have to go through Circuit Court and demonstrate blight before taking over a property.

If approved in committee, the bills will go to the full Senate for consideration.

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