Montgomery asks state for money for projects -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated on March 13, 2014.

Montgomery County’s delegation has asked Maryland for money to expand The Music Center at Strathmore and renovate the Strathmore Mansion, and they hope the project can get its own line in the capital budget.

Sen. Richard S. Madaleno said the project is too big for a local funding or bond bill but that lawmakers submitted it with its other 30 bond bill requests to get it on the radar.

Del. Norman H. Conway (D-Dist. 38B) of Salisbury, chair of the House Appropriations Committee said the bond bills typically approved by the state range up to only about $300,000.

Strathmore, he said, needs considerably more.

Madaleno (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington and Del. Sheila Ellis Hixson (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring have asked for $3.5 million for renovations at Strathmore, which include adding an escalator.

Conway said his committee could pull the project out and make it a separate project in the capital budget, which in order to gain funding would have to happen.

Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D) could do the same, Madaleno said.

Lawmakers annually ask the state to borrow money to help fund capital projects for nonprofits in their district. The requests are known as “bond bills.”

This year, state lawmakers from across the state have asked for about $40 million for projects in their districts.

“It’s tough,” Sen. Roger Manno said. “We’ve got about one-third of that [to work with].”

Only $15 million — $7.5 million in each chamber — is expected to be given to local projects in the fiscal 2015 capital budget that O’Malley proposed.

Montgomery’s delegation has asked for about $12.3 million. The requests range from $60,000 for a Metropolitan Ballet Theater relocation and expansion to $3.5 million for the project at Strathmore.

Also on the list are $2.5 million for a new Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Station and $200,000 to restore the historic Seneca Store in Poolesville.

Manno (D-Dist. 19) of Silver Spring said the county does not lobby collectively for any projects. Rather, each senator and each delegate generally pushes for the projects in the districts they represent.

Lawmakers spent all day Saturday and Monday morning listening to requests.

“It’s an open process, and it’s a fair process,” Del. Craig J. Zucker said. “Each organization gets to come to Annapolis and demonstrate the need for their project. It’s a great opportunity for the state to help invest in the community.”

Zucker (D-Dist. 14) of Brookeville said all of the Montgomery projects are connected to lawmakers making the requests, but the project at Strathmore is a priority for the county and “should be a priority for the state.”

“I hope it gets the funding it needs to make the needed renovations,” he said.

Members of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and House Appropriations Committee will pick which projects to recommend for funding during the next few weeks as they finalize the capital budget.

The budget then goes to the House and the Senate for votes.