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Public safety, courts, state's attorney request additional funding for personnel

The common topic among the agencies that came before the Carroll Board of County Commissioners on Thursday was personnel.

The Carroll County State's Attorney's Office and the county's Department of Public Safety asked for additional funding that would allow each to hire additional employees, while the Carroll County Circuit Court and The Arc Carroll County asked for money to adjust employee salaries.

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Judge Barry Hughes and Tom Gue, who is in charge of the Circuit Court bailiffs, asked the commissioners to raise the salaries of the approximately 30 bailiffs to $20 per hour from their current $17.64 per hour.

The bailiffs are all contractual, Gue said, meaning they don't get paid for days that the court is closed. And even if the salary is raised to the requested $20 per hour, it is still low compared to other counties, he told the commissioners.

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The bailiffs are also responsible for buying their own guns that they carry at court. The court provides them with the traditional blue blazer they wear, he said.

The bailiffs are invaluable to the Circuit Court, Gue said, adding that they provide protection in the eight courtrooms and the three different entrances to the court.

"And every day we take weapons off of people," Gue told the commissioners.

Hughes echoed Gue, telling the commissioners about an incident Wednesday during which the bailiffs had to handle a mother and two men who were upset with a ruling.

By increasing the salary to $20 per hour, Gue said they will have an easier time recruiting and retaining bailiffs. In the past year, the Circuit Court lost four bailiffs, with two leaving in the past month, he said.

Recruiting and retention was also a concern of The Arc, which requested approximately $10,000 from the county to allow them to increase their employee salaries to reflect changes to minimum wage.

At their Tuesday session, the Carroll commissioners heard from local nonprofits and county agencies concerning budget increases.

While the current pay is above minimum wage, The Arc wants to keep salaries competitive and wants to increase it so it remains above minimum wage, said Deputy Executive Director Mary Jo Walla.

The public safety department and the State's Attorney's Office are both asking for more employees.

Department of Public Safety Director Scott Campbell is asking for funding for an assistant coordinator position and another communication specialist.

When asked which position is more critical, Campbell said the assistant coordinator, but added that the importance of an assistant coordinator and a communication specialist is on par.

The assistant coordinator would handle Freedom of Information Act requests and quality assurance. A communication specialist works as a dispatcher, Campbell told the commissioners.

State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo also requested additional funding, in part for another person. He's looking for another Tim Weber.

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The Board of County Commissioners on Thursday got its first look at the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget, the nearly three-hour presentation the start of many weeks set aside to map out Carroll County's finances.

Weber works as a drug prevention and treatment liaison for the office, and he connects those with substance abuse disorders to treatment resources in addition to working on prevention. But the job is getting to be too much for Weber to handle.

"My phone rings incessantly. It is constantly ringing," Weber told the commissioners.

DeLeonardo asked for an additional one-time cost of $28,620, mostly for transportation, plus an ongoing cost of $65,360.

In justifying the additional person, DeLeonardo told the commissioners about the work Weber and the office has done to try and combat the continuing heroin crisis in Carroll. Outgoing Chief Ken Meekins, of the Hampstead Police Department, and a woman currently in recovery told the commissioners about how Weber and the State's Attorney's Office have made strives in helping connect people with resources.

DeLeonardo also spoke of the Major Opioid Initiative that the office launched earlier in 2017, which identifies those who are accounting for the majority of the overdoses in the county. Both projects could be aided by an additional person, he said.

410-857-7898



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