Commissioners approve several funding requests and end deliberations early

Emily Chappell
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

The county will get a second drug treatment liaison, bailiffs will get a raise, correctional officers' pensions will be in line with those of sheriff's deputies and Carroll County Public Schools will get more money in fiscal year 2019 after the commissioners approved those groups' funding requests during their Wednesday meeting.

The Board of County Commissioners meeting came to a close with a vote to end deliberations after three hours of discussion and decisions.

"I'm very pleased with this board. I think it's a fiscally conservative budget," Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, said.

The commissioners voted unanimously for a second drug liaison position in the State's Attorney's Office, something many of the commissioners listed as an item they were looking to get funding for in the upcoming fiscal year.

Carroll County State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo advocated for another drug prevention and treatment liaison for the office. There is currently one, a position held by Tim Weber. Weber works on prevention and connects those with substance use disorders with treatment resources.

While the new position was passed unanimously, Rothschild tried to include a caveat that the position come with a start point and end point, and last only a few years. The drug liaison positions are supposed to solve the problem, and making the job a "sunset" position with an end time gives incentive to get that job done, he said.

Other commissioners didn't agree, and the amendment ultimately did not pass.

"I'd like to think in a perfect world, we could eliminate the position but I don't think that's going to happen," Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said.

Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, agreed, and said he didn't think DeLeonardo or Weber needed incentive to continue working on the drug problem.

A salary increase for bailiffs also passed unanimously, bumping the pay up to $20 an hour, instead of the current $17.64 per hour. Enhanced pensions for correctional officers, allowing them to receive their pension after 25 years like the sheriff's deputies, also passed.

And while Carroll County Public Schools didn't ask for more funding than originally budgeted for FY18, commissioners did set aside more money for FY19, a year Superintendent Stephen Guthrie has previously indicated he is concerned about.

Plans had a $1,526,600 increase in county funding for Carroll schools from FY18 to FY19.

"We know that's not going to be sufficient," Guthrie said during the April 4 agency hearing. "[FY19] has to be our focus."

Howard put forth a motion — which passed unanimously — to take $2 million and put it into FY19.

"It's unquestionably a patch," he said, but it's a step in the right direction.

In order to continue to work toward closing funding gaps, Howard added, it's important that all agencies involved — the county, state and CCPS — continue to work together.

"If there's going to be any progress … it's got to be progress across the board," he said.

Commissioners also set aside $20,000 for tuition discounts for home-schooled or private school students who want to dual enroll at Carroll Community College. Students at CCPS receive a 31 percent discount — 6 percent from CCPS and 25 percent from the college — off of tuition.

But students who don't attend public schools don't currently receive the discount, something Rothschild has said is unconstitutional and discriminated against families who may choose alternate and religious schools.

"I do see that it's an issue, but for me, personally, I would sure like to see it repaired at the state level," Wantz said.

Until that happens, Rothschild said they should be providing local funding. The motion passed, 3-1 with Commissioner President Richard Weaver, R-District 2, in opposition and Howard abstaining.

Commissioners were originally supposed to meet Monday, April 24 , and Tuesday, April 25, for more work sessions and then Thursday, April 26, to see the recommended FY18 budget, but canceled the Monday meeting and will see the recommended budget Tuesday morning. May will bring a number of community meetings throughout the county, as well as a budget hearing, before the final budget is adopted May 25.


Budget schedule

April 25 — Proposed budget approved

7 p.m. May 1 — Community meeting at Eldersburg branch library

7 p.m. May 3 — Community meeting at North Carroll branch library

7 p.m. May 8 — Community meeting at Westminster branch library

7 p.m. May 10 — Community meeting at Taneytown branch library

7 p.m. May 11 — Community meeting at Mount Airy branch library

7 p.m. May 15 — Budget public hearing at Carroll Community College

May 25 — Budget adopted

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