The County Commissioners restored money last week to social programsthat had been threatened earlier by the county's ever-sharpening budget ax.

Home health-care visits by Department of Health nurses -- which, for many immobile Carroll residents is their only access to health care -- will not be cut. The commissioners on Thursday added $15,425 to the department's $2.063 million budget for the year beginning July 1.

"I'm glad you restored the money for the home health-care visits," Health Department Director Janet W. Neslen told the commissioners. "With this, we can keep up a good level of home visits."

The department will be able to keep intact its schedule of 365 home nursing visits and 208 home nursing aide visits for fiscal 1992.

The restoration of the money marks the fourth major reversal in social cuts madeby commissioners as they attempt to bring more than $140 million of spending requests in line with projected 1992 revenue of $112 million.

Several weeks ago, the commissioners released a list of proposedspending cuts that appeared likely to be made. Those cuts would haveeliminated 2,000 of the 50,000 meals served at the county's three senior centers, cut the number of senior citizens who could receive legal services and prevented almost 100 people from being able to receive sexual abuse counseling.

All those cuts were eventually restored, as was partial financing for first-response training of the county's 24 Emergency Operations Center operators.

Over the past two months, commissioners and the budget office have reworked next year's spending plan, as almost daily fluctuations in state, federal and local revenue projections took place.

Keeping social programs that benefit needy residents directly has been a stated priority of the commissioners; they have looked to the county bureaucracy for the heaviest cuts. Hiring and salary freezes, travel reduction, energy conservationand a capital spending slowdown have been in place for months.

"We had some real concern about the social cuts, as their seriousness began to soak in," Commissioner Vice President Elmer C. Lippy Jr. saidlast week. "I'm very defensive about social services. It's very easywhen you're going through with an ax to go after social agencies, and we had to be careful."

And while not all social agencies were spared deep cuts -- the Carroll County Association for Retarded Citizens' 1992 county budget of $23,520 was 400 percent less than the nearly$120,000 it requested -- many internal government agencies face reduced spending.

One such agency that was reviewed Thursday afternoonwas the Department of Human Resources and Personnel Services. That budget, at $5.3 million, is 2.4 percent below this year's $5.41 million and represents an 11 percent cut from the department's $5.96 million request.

Hardest hit in the department, according to Director Jimmie Lynn Saylor, is internal training programs.

"Cross-training and flexibility is very important right now," she said. "This budget does allow us to reach our mission, with one exception -- the budget actually reduces money for training programs."

Commissioners Dell and Lippy indicated after the hearing that they would direct the budget office to find a way to replace nearly $6,000 of the training money.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge did not attend the hearings.

Other budgets reviewed Thursday include:

* The Civil Air Patrol, whose$13,065 budget is 2 percent below this year's $13,335 spending plan.

* Carroll Haven Inc. will receive $37,240 from the county next year, a 2 percent reduction from this year's $38,000.

* Junction Inc., a private non-profit organization that provides drug and alcohol abuse prevention and treatment services, also faces a 2 percent reduction from the county for next year, set at $53,915.

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