TOWSON, Md. — A former high level Baltimore County employee allegedly received perks in exchange for waiving millions in fees tied to a construction project at Owings Mills Metro Centre.
The revelations were made in an Inspector General's report, published on January 4.
According to Baltimore County Inspector General Kelly Madigan, County Code requires developers to pay refundable security deposits in the event they fail to complete the project as agreed to. The developer is also usually responsible for various other fees to help cover the costs of building inspections and permits.
This particular project has a total estimated cost of around $220 million. Construction started in 2005 and is still ongoing. It includes the building of commercial retail and office space, a new hotel that opened in December 2021, parking garages, a public library, and a building for the Community College of Baltimore County.
The Inspector General found that fees were properly collected from 2005 to 2010, but stopped between 2011 and 2018, when a new director took over the County’s Department of Permits, Approvals, and Inspections.
During that time the new director reportedly received kickbacks from the developer, including NCAA Big 10 Conference basketball tickets, and a free parking space in a residential community.
The former director in question apparently never had the authority to stop project collections fees . Only the County Administrative Officer has that power, with proper notice and justification given to County Council beforehand.
After the director's departure, the report found that fees continued to be waived. In September 2021, the County Administrative Officer wrote to the developer saying the County intended to honor the previous director's waiver.
In response to the Inspector General, the County Legal Department said, "While our Administration will honor the Agreement we inherited, we will not waive fees into perpetuity at this site."
The full report can be read here.