Only a handful of Carroll County residents have turned up at the four community sessions set aside for the public to learn and ask questions about the commissioners’ spending plan for fiscal 2023, which begins July 1.
Last week, commissioners released their proposed $708.4 million budget, with one of the main goals being to address lagging compensation for Carroll County government employees. A little more than $7 million has been set aside to address the county’s ability to retain and attract government staff, according to documents prepared by the Department of Management and Budget.
The budget plan also includes $8.4 million for county public schools, though the Board of Education had asked for $2 million more than that; $4 million in ongoing funds for the new Fire and EMS Department, largely for the hiring of 234 employees; and $3.7 million for salary increases at the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.
The fifth and final public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, at the North Carroll branch of the Carroll County Public Library.
Meetings were held during the past week at the Eldersburg branch, the Mount Airy branch, the Westminster branch, and the Taneytown branch of the county’s public libraries, with time dedicated to answering residents’ questions about the 2023 budget plan. Each had very low attendance, according to Ted Zaleski, director of management and budget for the county. Only three residents attended Tuesday’s meeting in Taneytown.
Zaleski noted that the ultimate decisions on budgeting are with the commissioners and said if someone wants to advocate for or against something in the budget, they should contact commissioners. Those who have questions specific to budget numbers can contact Zaleski at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-386-2082.
A final public hearing on the proposed county budget will take place May 10 at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster, beginning at 7 p.m.
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Commissioner Dennis Frazier, a District 3 Republican, said the best way for people to provide feedback on the budget is to speak at the public hearings.
“I pushed for [the in-person hearing],” he said. “Most places where we usually would have it were booked, but it worked out with the Arts Center. I’m looking forward to it.”
Commissioners will hold final deliberations after the Westminster public hearing and adopt the fiscal 2023 budget on May 24. The budget consists of 13 funds, including $501.3 million in the general or operating fund and $121 million in the capital fund, which covers construction costs. Budget documents and meetings can be viewed at https://www.carrollcountymd.gov/government/directory/management-budget/bureau-of-budget/