Washington County projects still in capital budget

March 29, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |

ANNAPOLIS — State lawmakers Tuesday backed funding for three projects in Washington County that are already in the fiscal 2012 capital budget.

The House Appropriations capital budget subcommittee supported $9.7 million for work at the Maryland Correctional Training Center, south of Hagerstown, and $2.5 million for a downtown Hagerstown library project.

The subcommittee also agreed with reducing fiscal 2012 funding for a new Maryland State Police barrack in Hagerstown from $2.525 million to $2.3 million. However, the state Department of Legislative Services said money from a prior year will make up for the reduction.

The subcommittee is expected to report Wednesday to the full Appropriations Committee, which will then propose a capital budget to the full House of Delegates.

The subcommittee voted Tuesday on legislative services’ recommendations on numerous items, including the Washington County projects.

The Senate’s capital budget subcommittee has reviewed the recommendations, but hasn’t voted on them.

The MCTC project entails replacing housing unit windows and heating systems — “the first step in a staged plan to replace the cell windows and heating systems in all six of the original, early 1960’s-era housing units at MCTC, making that institution more energy-efficient,” Division of Correction spokeswoman Erin Julius said in an e-mail.

The subcommittee also supported $2.5 million for Western Maryland Regional Library, a state entity housed at Washington County Free Library’s downtown branch. The entire project, covering the county and state libraries, recently was estimated to cost $24.5 million.

Another library fund that benefits Washington County — a $5 million statewide grant program — is facing a cut. Legislative services recommended trimming it to $4 million in fiscal 2012, and the budget subcommittee agreed.

A new state police barrack in Hagerstown will replace the current one, which is more than 35 years old.

The capital budget subcommittee also approved $500,000 for the design to take down the former House of Correction in Jessup.

The state closed the problematic prison in 2007, shortly after Gov. Martin O’Malley took office and Gary D. Maynard became secretary of public safety and correctional services.

Maynard has proposed using inmate labor to help “deconstruct,” or take apart, the vacant prison instead of demolishing it. He has said deconstruction will let valuable components be salvaged and sold and using inmates would save money.

Maynard’s department must submit a report on his inmate-labor proposal to the budget committees by Dec. 1.

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