September 23, 2017
Politics & Opinion
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A Healthy And Safe Anne Arundel County

Derek Fink
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July 12, 2017

I hope that you are all having a great summer and had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday! A lot of interesting and exciting things have happened during June and early July in the county and with the county council. We passed our annual budget, which I highlighted in a previous article. At the urging of myself and the county council via a resolution I sponsored, the state will fund air quality monitors near the Herbert A. Wagner Generating Station. Another important piece of legislation introduced this past month is “Lilo’s Law,” which involves Animal Control and dealing with dangerous animals.

Every year, we pass a budget and some budget sessions are more contentious than others. This year, I am happy to say, was not one of those years. This year, a balanced budget was agreed upon in a very cooperative fashion. The $1.5 billion budget fully funded a salary step increase for county teachers and included funding for 40 new public safety officers.

At the end of the budget process, we put forth extra funding for three elementary schools. One of the most significant impacts on our area was the $15 million allocated for the modernization and addition to High Point Elementary School. Also included in the budget was almost $500,000 for planning and design of a new Jacobsville Fire Station, which will be completed by 2021. These are just a few of the important projects that the council has allocated funds for in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

When the Greater Pasadena Council and communities surrounding the Wagner power plant approached me with the idea of a resolution asking the state to fund air quality monitors in that area, I was happy to help. In July of 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (and shortly after, the Maryland Department of the Environment) came to differing conclusions on whether or not the Wagner power plant was emitting unhealthy levels of sulfur dioxide. Both agencies used modeling to come to their conclusions. Therefore, local officials including myself and the Greater Pasadena Council believe the monitoring equipment is necessary to determine the air quality in the area.

In March, I sponsored Resolution 9-17, which urged the state legislature and governor to appropriate funds for the air quality monitors near the Wager power plant. The county council passed the resolution. With our urging and the support of the state legislators in the Pasadena area, the Maryland Department of Environment confirmed it will install monitoring equipment in the area by the fall.

One of the most contentious and emotional bills that we have heard on the council this year has to do with a dog that was viciously attacked and killed by another dog, leading to a need for change in our Animal Control procedures. “Lilo’s Law,” which I wrote about in last month’s article, was heard but not voted on during our early July meeting because it is going to be amended. The amendments will not change the overall point of the bill, but we will hear more testimony and hopefully vote on the bill at our mid-July meeting. I am confident in its passage. The changes to the Animal Control procedures give the county more “teeth” in being able to deal with vicious and dangerous animals.

The health and public safety of my constituents will always be my top priority. The ability to pass a balanced budget that leads to further funding of increases in public safety, the county’s resolution to push for the funding of air quality monitors and the changes to animal control laws to keep our neighborhoods safe from dangerous animals are just a few steps we are taking to make Anne Arundel County a healthier and safer place.


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