10 new laws take effect Saturday

September 30, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

Effective Saturday, the Washington County Commissioners can make the penalty for violating the county's animal control ordinance more severe. And if you have an alarm system, false alarms could cost you.

Ten new enabling laws giving local governments authority in areas ranging from regulating weeds to raising the salary for the next county sheriff take effect Saturday. Requested by local authorities, they were sponsored by the Washington County Delegation and approved by the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year.

They include:

  • HB905 - Makes a violation of the Washington County animal control ordinance a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of up to 30 days or a fine of $1,000, or both. It also authorizes an animal control officer in Washington County to issue citations for violations of the animal control ordinance.

  • HB 906 - Authorizes the Washington County Commissioners to adopt regulations to register alarm system contractors and alarm users, and provide penalties and issue civil citations for repeated false alarms. The Washington County Sheriff's Office reported that it responded to 3,008 alarms in 2004, eight of which were valid, according to the bill's fiscal analysis.

  • HB 907 - Authorizes the town of Boonsboro to undertake and carry out specified urban renewal projects for slum clearance and redevelopment. The bill also requires Boonsboro to provide just compensation for properties taken, requires that the power of eminent domain be used for public uses and purposes, allows for taxation, expenditures of public funds, and extension of public credit to meet urban renewal goals.

  • HB 912 - Increases the salary for the sheriff of Washington County to $80,000, effective with the beginning of the term of the next sheriff.

  • HB 913 - Requires the Washington County Electrical Board to adopt regulations for the approval of specified licensing agreements, the enforcement of codes and specified permitting issues.

  • HB 914 - Authorizes the Washington County Commissioners to adopt regulations for restricting the growth of non-noxious weeds within the county. Furthermore, the commissioners are authorized to place a lien on any real property for unpaid charges resulting from the removal of any unauthorized accumulation of weeds or debris. The county is required to provide reasonable notice to the property owner before it removes weeds or debris from the property, which could result in the placing of a lien on the property.

  • HB 916 - Allows a county procurement officer to award a procurement contract on the basis of revised bids under specified circumstances. This law would allow the county to 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.

  • HB 917 - Increases the annual compensation of members of the Washington County Board of Education by $700 per member. The president of the board will receive $5,600 annually and the other members will receive $5,500 each.

  • HB 918 - Increases the compensation for substitute members of the Washington County local board of elections; increases the compensation for election judges in Washington County. A chief election judge's compensation increases from $125 to $175 per day, and every other judge's compensation increases from $100 to $150 per day. In addition, the compensation for a substitute member of the Washington County local board of election is established at $75 for each meeting attended by the substitute member.

  • HB 1187 - Alters the composition of the salary study commission for Washington County.

More information on each of these local laws is available at, the General Assembly's Web site.

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