She says her top priority is restoring highway user revenues.
Frederick, Md (KM). It was an issue last year, and it will continue to be an issue in the 2019 Maryland General Assembly. Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner says she will continue to fight for full restoration of highway user revenues from the state. “We did have a bill last year that will restore some highway revenue to counties across the state of Maryland for several fiscal years,” she says.
During a legislative town hall meeting Wednesdays night at Winchester Hall, which was sparsely attended, Gardner said the county uses this money, which comes from gas tax revenues and vehicle registration fees, to maintain local roads. “Prior to the recession, Frederick County received about $13-and-a-half million from the gas tax–highway user revenue cost share, and our municipalities in the county received about $5-million. So that’s about $18-million,” she says. “So during the recession, that money was cut by about 96%. It was mostly eliminated.”
Since then, counties and municipalities have been fighting to get that back to full funding. “Our county Department of Public Works has really asked us to continue to advocate for that money because we use it for road maintenance in Frederick County. And we still are not funding road maintenance at the level we were prior to the recession,” says Gardner.
The County Executive says she’s also push for school construction funding during the General Assembly Session.. “Building schools is an important issue in Frederick County. So that is always a priority,” she says.
And Gardner says she will lobby for additional funding to handle the heroin and opioid crisis. “We need to have additional substance abuse treatment programs and we also want support for the detox center that we have proposed in the county, as well as support for our peer coaches who help be that point of contact for people who are suffering the challenges of addiction,” she says.
The county has proposed using the work-release center at the Adult Detention Center property as a detox center..
The County Council has not proposed any legislation or position statements yet, but Councilman Billy Shreve is working on a bill to allow single family residences located outside of Priority Funding Areas to receive state grants to connect to an existing sewer line if their septic system fails. The Council was expected to discuss and vote on it on Tuesday, but Councilman Shreve asked that it be put on hold.
The legislative package is expected to be formally presented to the delegation on Wednesday, November 14th. Delegates and State Senators will hold a hearing on the package on Saturday, December 1st. The 2019 Maryland General Assembly will convene on Wednesday, January 9th.
By Kevin McManus