The Carroll County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday continued the process of hearing budget requests from county agencies as the five-member board continues its budget crafting process.
Board president Stephen Wantz said he had “never seen a challenge” like finalizing a proposed FY20 budget and keeping things balanced through FY25.
More than a dozen agencies have spoken before the commissioners so far, including county human resources, the sheriff’s office, the community college and the public school system.
The county is in the early stages of crafting its fiscal year 2020 budget; the commissioners in late March heard a presentation from budget director Ted Zaleski recommending a budget of about $418 million.
In his presentation, Zaleski said the county is in OK financial shape for the near-term but there are adverse conditions ahead. He also noted that county revenues from income, property and other taxes are growing slower than expected.
The recommended FY20 budget is already about $7 million more than the adopted FY19 budget. Agencies are appearing before the commission to ask for funding above the recommended levels.
“I’ll give it one word. Challenging,” Wantz said. He said the FY20 budget was “the tightest I’ve ever seen.”
Wantz said that, as much as he’d like to be able to fund departmental requests, “there’s really no extra [money] at this point.”
One department requesting additional funds is the human resources department, which already has budgeted a 3 percent cost of living raise for most county employees totaling about $1.1 million in the recommended budget.
Kimberly Frock, director of human resources for Carroll County government, is requesting an additional $742,000 in order to give a 2 percent increment raise to employees hired before June 30, 2018.
During her hearing, Frock said providing raises helps with employee retention, which allows for better government services. It’s difficult to keep employees for longer than five years, Frock said, and some employees use Carroll as a “stepping stone” to government careers in other jurisdictions that are able to pay a higher salary.
“The knowledge is walking out the door. It’s scary,” Frock said.
Other requests for additional funding not already baked into the recommended budget have come from agencies ranging from the sheriff’s office to the court system to outside organizations that receive county funding to operate.
The additional funding requests include:
- $11,000 for Rape Crisis Intervention Services of Carroll County, to keep an outreach specialist position as a full-time position.
- a shift of about $800,000 from money for new school resource officer positions in the sheriff’s office to money sent to a disability pension fund. Sheriff Jim DeWees said the new positions are not necessary.
- an additional $25,000 to Family and Children’s Services of Carroll County to help with the cost of transporting clients and patients.
- an additional $564,896 to Carroll Community College to give a 3 percent salary increase, with an additional $500,000 for technology improvements in 2025.
- an additional $5 million to Carroll County Public Schools, including 29 new positions.
The budget process will continue Thursday, April 4, with more agency budget presentations during the board’s 1 p.m. open session.