Kamenetz Has Short List Of General Assembly Goals
School funding, merging some school operations with the county and changes to liquor license laws top modest requests.
Times are tight in Annapolis these days.
Because of that, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said his requests for the 2012 session that begins Wednesday are modest.
Kamenetz, according to a prepared statement released to the press, is expected to keep school funding at the top of the county's priority list.
"In recognition of the financial difficulties that confront our State right now, Baltimore County will only ask for what is absolutely necessary for our communities," according to a prepared statement Kamenetz is expected to deliver to county legislators at 11 a.m. today. "That is why our number one priority this year is the State’s continued support of education through the State’s school renovation and construction funding program."
The county is requesting about $70 million in school construction and renovation funds. The state's Interagency Committee on school construction has already awarded the county about $23 million for projects.
On the county's list this year are projects including:
- Two new eastside high schools in Sollers Point and Dundalk.
- Renovations and a new addition at Stoneleigh Elementary.
- New windows and doors at Pikesville High School.
- A new roof at Hereford High School.
Last year the county received a total of $32 million for such projects.
Kamenetz is also expected to ask the General Assembly to pass legislation allowing the county to take over some school system functions.
The county executive's remarks as released to the media don't include the details of those functions but last year, Kamenetz talked about his desire for the county to take over construction and facilities maintenance. His prepared statement seems consistent with those earlier comments.
"It is more important than ever that we do all that we can to direct our resources to the classroom, and if we can save money by reducing duplication of effort that will be a step in the right direction," according to Kamenetz's prepared remarks.
Kamenetz is also expected to ask legislators to make changes to county liquor license laws.
The county executive will tell legislators he's reached an agreement with the Baltimore County Licensed Beverage Association to double to 12 the number of licenses that can be held by one corporation. Currently, one company can only hold six licenses. There is an additional license available for any corporation or individual who opens a business in the Liberty Road corridor.
The county will also seek to change the law allowing license holders on the eastside, particularly in Essex and Middle River, to sell their licenses to other parts of the county. Currently, the area has a glut of licenses that county officials say would be better used in areas such as Towson and Timonium.
Finally, the county wants to be able to create a number of service bar licenses that would not be transferable. Kamenetz will ask legislators to include provisions that make all new licenses issued by the county site specific and non-transferable.
Last year, a task force convened by Kamenetz set out to change how liquor licenses in the county are distributed with an eye toward a new, less restrictive model. At the time, the county executive said that he believed the changes would help foster economic development.
Many of the changes in Kamenetz's legislative request reflect the task force's recommendations. Not all of them were agreed to by the licensed beverage association.
Also on the county's agenda is a change that would restrict the use of handicapped parking spaces in the county to just two hours.
"This will enable our traffic enforcement officers to follow the example of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and ensure that these spaces are available to more people over the course of a day than just one person," according to Kamenetz's prepared remarks.
The county is limiting its bond and capital budget requests to just two projects.
Kamenetz is expected to tell legislators that he is asking for $150,000 for the county's NeighborSpace program, a community-based program that protects open spaces in more developed areas of the county.
The county will also ask for $400,000 from the state's capital budget for Battle Acre Park, site of a battle in the War of 1812. The money would allow the county to make repairs and improvements to the park in advance of the bicentennial anniversary of the battle.
And while his remarks do not contain specific funding requests, Kamenetz is expected to ask legislators to support projects in Middle River and Owings Mills.
"We feel that a relocated and expanded Martin MARC Station has great potential in light of the ongoing revitalization of the Middle River area, the BRAC-driven expansion of Aberdeen Proving Ground, the steady pace of new development surrounding MD 43, and the inclusion by Amtrak of a potential new Middle River station in its master plan," according to Kamenetz's prepared statment. "Relocation of the station to the east side of MD 43 would allow the station to complement redevelopment of the 2-million-square-foot GSA Depot facility as a mixed-use, transit-oriented development to provide a wide range of uses.
"In addition, we believe that the pace of development in Owings Mills and the progress at the Metro Center site will require upgrades to Reisterstown Road and its associated intersections sooner than expected," according to the remarks released to the media. "We suggest consideration of design of parallel access roads on both sides of Reisterstown Road, including utilization of the east-side terminus of Painters Mill Road. Both of these projects are essential to the growth and prosperity of these communities, and I thank you for your support of these important infrastructure improvements."