Maryland Senate approves $1.12 billion capital budget

Version includes funding for park improvements in Williamsport and a Korean War veterans memorial in Hagerstown

March 29, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Senate has approved a fiscal 2013 funding for Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park improvements in Williamsport and a Korean War veterans memorial in Hagerstown.

The two items were among the projects in a $1.12 billion capital budget tentatively approved Wednesday and passed Thursday by a 39-7 vote.

The House of Delegates is getting closer to having its own version of the capital budget ready for a preliminary vote.

The General Assembly has until April 9 to pass the legislation and reconcile any differences in bills supported by the House and Senate.


The Senate version includes up to $175,000 for the National Park Service to improve Lockhouse 44, Lock 44 and the Western Maryland Railroad lift bridge.

At the Park Service’s request, Sen.George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, asked for up to $320,000 in state money for the project.

Edwards said it’s not unusual to get only partial funding.

“Sometimes, it takes a couple years to get what they need,” he said.

Edwards’ request for C&O Canal funding through a bond bill was unusual because the Williamsport section of the park currently isn’t in his district.

However, Del. Andrew A. Serafini and Sen.Christopher B. Shank, who represent Williamsport, are opposed to making bond-bill requests while the state is having financial problems.

Last year, the Washington County legislative delegation turned down the park service’s request to seek up to $215,000 for work on Lock 44 and the lift bridge.

The park service has estimated that it will need, through various sources, a total of $2.2 million for the lift-bridge project, $350,000 for Lock 44 and $223,000 for Lockhouse 44.

Park Superintendent Kevin Brandt didn’t return a message left on his cellphone on Wednesday.

The other Washington County bond-bill request fulfilled in the tentative capital budget is for up to $40,000 to help Antietam Chapter 312 of the Korean War Veterans Association build a monument in Hagerstown’s North End.

That’s how much Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, requested in his bond bill. Sen.Ronald N. Young, D-Frederick/Washington, and Sen.Robert J. Garagiola, D-Montgomery, cross-filed the bill in the Senate.

A committee working on the monument said recently that it will need about $70,000 and had raised about $32,000 in cash and in-kind pledges.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners agreed to contribute the final $10,000 once the group raises $60,000.

State bond bills — so named because the state issues bonds to fund capital projects — typically require a guarantee of a local match of real property, in-kind contributions or previously expended money.

Also in the tentative capital budget is $2.4 million for a project at Maryland Correctional Training Center, a state prison south of Hagerstown.

Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, wrote in an email that this is the final funding piece for a roughly $30 million project at MCTC.

The project, which has been completed, included a new housing unit to hold 384 inmates, a commissary, medical facilities and other upgrades, he wrote.

The capital budget also has $1.8 million for improvements at Fort Frederick State Park; $1.1 million to help Brook Lane Health Services renovate and expand its psychiatric hospital in Hagerstown; and $438,000 for design improvements to the wastewater treatment plant at Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown, another state prison south of Hagerstown.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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