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Washington County bond bill to fund CIP passes third reading in House

A cross-filed version of the bill will be heard by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee March 5

February 28, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS — A Washington County delegation bill asking for bond authorization worth $60 million to fund the county’s Capital Improvement Plan passed the third reading in the House on Thursday.

House delegates voted 137-0 for the bill without any discussion.

A cross-filed version of the bill filed by Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, will be heard by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee March 5.

The bond money could be used to construct and renovate public schools, buildings for public safety, health and social services and libraries and fund other capital projects.

Gregory B. Murray, the county administrator, said the $60 million in bond authorization being asked for “was not an approval to spend” and is expected to last through fiscal year 2018 and beyond.

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“Typically we are in the $12 to $14 million range [every year],” Murray said.

The last time Washington County asked for bond authorization from the Maryland General Assembly for the Capital Improvement Plan was more than five years ago, Murray said.

At the time, he said, the county was authorized $80 million for capital projects.

“We have been very conservative,” Murray said, adding that the money authorized at the time lasted for a longer amount of time than expected.

Washington County is a “commission county” and such counties do not have the legislative power to create debt. They require permission from the General Assembly.

The county has been granted authorization worth $205 million in bonds for public facilities since 1999, according to an analysis of the bill by the state’s Department of Legislative Services.

“Statistics show that Washington County does a great job fiscally and financially with their debt service and have not over extended themselves,” said Del. Andrew A. Serafini, R-Washington, and chair of the county delegation.

“We do not expect any opposition to the bill,” he said.

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