Washington County Commissioners set legislative priorities

November 14, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

Washington County officials want to prohibit tractor-trailers from parking on suburban streets, raise the threshold for public bidding on county projects and draft ordinances governing special events and sidewalk maintenance.

The County Commissioners discussed these and other issues as they finalized their legislative priorities Tuesday for the Maryland General Assembly's upcoming 2008 session.

Every year, the commissioners ask the Washington County Delegation to propose a handful of laws during the General Assembly session.

Under the current form of government, commissioners are restricted in enacting new legislation and have to submit most laws to the state legislature for passage.

The primary request in this year's legislative package is to change the county's excise tax. Last month, the commissioners voted to support changing the tax, which is charged on new construction, from a flat rate to a fee based on square footage for new homes.


The General Assembly would have to adopt any changes to the tax and does not have to abide by the commissioners' recommendations, which would set the residential tax rate at $3 per square foot.

A request to prohibit tractor-trailers from parking on suburban, residential streets was submitted by Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth, who said he has received several complaints on the subject.

Kroboth also submitted a request to raise the threshold for public bidding on county projects. Currently, any county project costing more than $25,000 must be put out for bid. Kroboth said that amount should be increased to $50,000.

"It's an incredible drain on staff time to put these projects out, and with the increase in costs for work, it just makes sense," Kroboth said.

The commissioners voted 4-1 to include the request, with Commissioner William J. Wivell voting against it.

Requests that would enable two ordinances also were approved by the commissioners.

A special events ordinance requested by Sheriff Douglas Mullendore would require organizations hosting large events to notify the county beforehand, which would prevent county departments from "scrambling" in preparation, according to Assistant County Attorney Andrew F. Wilkinson.

A sidewalk ordinance requested by Special Projects Director Gary Rohrer would require property owners to maintain the portion of sidewalks abutting their property.

Rohrer said current laws allow the county to enforce sidewalk maintenance, but are "kind of weak."

The commissioners will meet with the Washington County Delegation on Nov. 27.

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