Harford to build therapeutic horseback riding facility near Havre de Grace

Harford County government will break ground next week on a $1 million-plus therapeutic horseback riding facility near Havre de Grace. Aimed at helping disabled and special needs adults and children, it will be the first significant public development on the Oakington Farm property, part of the former Millard E. Tydings estate, that the county acquired two decades ago. The non-profit Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding, a private organization based in Abingdon, will relocate to the new facility and operate it, the county's parks and recreation director said. (Balt. Sun)

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May 1 // Baltimore police contract calls for raises, fewer positions

A tentative agreement between Baltimore and its police union would cut vacant positions from the department while raising officer pay, a shift intended to stop officers from leaving for better-paying agencies. The proposed three-year contract marks a sweeping change for an agency that has struggled with vacancies as it lags behind nearby Baltimore and Howard counties in officer pay. Police also said the deal would shift many more officers to patrol units and put more officers on the streets. Key to the agreement is a new work schedule that both City Hall and union leaders say will allow commanders to quickly assign more resources to crime surges without running up overtime. (Balt. Sun) 

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Street sweeping expansion pulls in 400 tons of trash, pollutants in first month

More than 400 tons of trash, debris and pollutants have been collected from Baltimore streets in the last month under a new citywide mechanical street sweeping program, according to the city's public works department. The 401.1 tons collected were in addition to what was also collected under the city's long-standing sweeping routes in downtown and central areas of the city, though the new and old routes overlap some, said Kurt Kocher, a public works spokesman. Total citywide tonnage for the month was not available, Kocher said. Under the city's previous, more limited sweeping program, about 10,200 tons of trash and pollutants were collected in all of 2013. (Balt. Sun)

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Accounting errors detailed in Enoch Pratt Free Library audit

A financial audit of the Enoch Pratt Free Library found that sloppy bookkeeping and poor oversight have resulted in balance questions, negative accounts and late reimbursements to city coffers. After a presentation before the city's spending panel Wednesday, Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young asked library officials to return in 90 days to discuss their plan to correct the accounting troubles. Young said while he is a "big supporter of the library system," he is concerned, especially since some of the problems have continued for several years. (Balt. Sun) 

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Kent Island sewer plan renews growth debate

A plan aimed at fixing a large number of failing household septic systems on Kent Island is stirring debate, as Queen Anne's County looks to permit roughly 600 new homes on the low-lying gateway to the Eastern Shore while hooking existing homes up to its sewer system. County officials say the $53 million state-financed sewer project, made possible by legislation passed this year, would resolve a long-standing public health and environmental problem while limiting how much new development can take place in an area virtually surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay. (Balt. Sun)

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EPA defends enforcement plan, as critics see retreat

Can the Chesapeake Bay get cleaned up faster if the environmental cops spend less time on the beat, but focus on the worst polluters and count on the rest to get the message? That's essentially what the Environmental Protection Agency proposes to do in a "strategic plan" the agency released earlier this month. The blueprint talks about addressing climate change, improving air quality and reinvigorating water-quality improvement efforts over the next five years, extending beyond the end of the Obama administration. (Balt. Sun)

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Aberdeen proposes $14 million budget for FY15, 16 percent spending cut

Aberdeen's city administration is proposing a $14.1 million operating budget for fiscal year 2015, which reflects a 16 percent decrease in spending from fiscal year 2014. Even so, the proposed budget includes a cost of living increase for city employees of 2.5 percent, Mayor Mike Bennett said Monday. The city is also proposing keeping the property tax rate at 68 cents per $100 of assessed value, the highest of Harford's three municipalities. (Aegis)

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Free aid used by about one-third of university data breach victims

Less than one-third of those affected by a massive data breach at the University of Maryland, College Park, have signed up for complimentary credit monitoring offered by the university, with some students and staff questioning the benefits of the free service. When a university database was hacked Feb. 18, around 300,000 faculty, staff, students and alumni were told their Social Security numbers and other private information were compromised, which could lead to identity theft or credit fraud. But as of April 15, only 29 percent had signed up for the five years of credit monitoring the university is offering through Experian credit bureau, according to Phyllis Johnson, a spokeswoman for the university’s Division of Information Technology. (Gazette) 

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