County officials throughout Maryland have much to worry about over the next two-and-a-half months as the Maryland General Assembly remains in session. Lawmakers in Annapolis could take action on proposals that would ease some of the financial burdens placed on state officials and move them onto the plates of local elected officials.

According to the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), the proposed measures could mean counties like Calvert will have to find millions of dollars to cover teacher and local state employee pension costs that are currently funded by the state, the Maryland Department of Environment would have authority to approve residential subdivision plats and developers of major subdivisions would be barred from servicing them with individual septic systems.

To add to the angst, Gov. Martin O’Malley [D] is proposing a 6 percent sales tax on gasoline.

“This is just going to be devastating to commuter counties like ours,” said Commissioner Susan Shaw [R]. The sales tax would be in addition to the flat tax currently imposed on gasoline sales.

Shaw and Commissioner Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R] have been serving as members of MACo’s Legislative Committee and attending meetings on Wednesday in Annapolis. There are three subcommittees—Education, Tax, which Shaw serves on, and Land Use. 

Shaw provided the commissioners, county officials and the public a quick update on MACo’s ongoing concerns about the 2012 session of the Maryland General Assemby during the board’s Tuesday, Jan. 31 meeting.

Shaw indicated that by passing the pension costs off to the counties, the state would leave Calvert with a $3 million to $6 million budget hole.

“What they [state officials] are expecting us to do is raise taxes,” said Shaw. “There’s a piling on with Plan Maryland and the septic bans. The general public needs to know.”

Contact Marty Madden at