The Maryland General Assembly saved some of the best for last — from this region’s standpoint — by passing several pieces of legislation that will have a big impact here.
The legislative body finished up its annual 90-day session Monday. In the dwindling days, lawmakers gave the nod to several bills of local interest, including:
• Bond bill money for the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation, Friends Aware, Christian Crossings Thrift Shop and HART for Animals. Each organization will receive $100,000.
• School funding to help school districts facing decreases in state aid because of declining student enrollment, such as Garrett County. Allegany County has faced a similar problem in the past.
• A downtown tax credit bill designed to help attract developers and support building owners hoping to make the upper stories of downtown buildings more attractive.
The animal shelter money will be used for a new Animal Adoption and Care Center.
Friends Aware’s bond money will be used for capital projects to benefit the 140 individuals with developmental disabilities.
Christian Crossings will use its money to construct a 10,200-square-foot thrift shop on property owned by the Garrett Cooperative Ministry.
HART for Animals will use its funding to help build a new shelter adoption center on Bumblebee Road in Garrett County.
Schools with declining enrollment have also seen state funding decline. The bill mandates the state to supplement shortfalls in the state aid formula for the next three fiscal years. In Garrett County’s case, the school system was facing a state funding shortage of more than $900,000 in fiscal 2015 unless the mandated funding bill was enacted.
The downtown tax credit legislation is intended to entice owners of upper story structures to convert the space into office or apartment use. Those who do will be eligible for a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the amount of the investment, with the credit applied over a 10-year period. Cumberland has a number of upper story properties that could potentially be eligible for the tax credit.