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Budget proposal outlined 'Austere' plan reflects economy; hearing May 13


Carroll County's budget for the next fiscal year reflects th frugal policies the state budget crisis forced the commissioners and their staff to follow for the past three years.

The result is that most county departments and agencies won't have much more to spend in fiscal 1994, which begins July 1, than they did in the current fiscal year.

In mid-April, the commissioners released a $130 million proposed operating budget for fiscal 1994, which included no tax increases, raises for employees and an 8.9 percent increase in revenue.

The current year's budget is $119.7 million.

The commissioners asked their staff to develop "no-growth" budgets for fiscal 1994 that kept spending as close as possible to current levels.

"We developed these austere guidelines because we did not wish to raise the tax rate for the citizens of Carroll during these difficult economic times," the commissioners wrote in an introductory letter published in a budget book Thursday.

The book details spending in each department and is available to residents at Carroll libraries or the County Office Building.

The commissioners will take public comment on their proposed budget at a hearing at 7:30 p.m. May 13 in the Westminster High School auditorium. The commissioners will adopt a budget on May 27.

The proposed $32.6 million capital budget includes almost $8 million to build a new middle school in New Windsor, and planning money for a middle school in the Sykesville area and an elementary school in Taneytown.

The current year's capital budget is $23.6 million.

Following are details about some departments' operating budgets, including some departments that would get more money in the proposed budget than this year.

Emergency Services

This is one of the few departments that would receive more money in the coming fiscal year. The commissioners propose increasing the budget by about 36 percent, or $209,000, to buy new radio and communications equipment.

About $60,000 would go toward an engineering study to determine whether Carroll should upgrade its emergency radio communications system or replace it, Director of General Services J. Michael Evans said.

The county's current system was built in the 1960s and is overloaded, which hinders communication between emergency personnel.

The budget also includes money to pay for part of a new microwave tower communications system, mobile radios for the

Sheriff's Department and Detention Center, and to repair equipment.

Public Works

The commissioners propose to spend $140,000 to extend the life of 20 miles of county road with a "slurry seal" process, Public Works Director Keith R. Kirschnick said. The seal is a thin overlay that keeps out moisture and is less expensive than thicker asphalt overlays, he said.

The proposed Public Works budget is $10.3 million, or $461,675 higher than the current year's budget.

The budget also includes $84,000 to buy an air compressor and two tractors with mowers, and $68,000 to hire eight seasonal workers to help with spring and summer mowing.


Commissioner Donald I. Dell said in January that if the budget crunch worsened, the tourism budget might be sacrificed. Repairing potholes was more important than promoting tourism, he said.

But the tourism budget survived almost intact; the proposed budget is only $240 less than the current year's budget. The total proposed budget is $119,160.

"The budget still is going to be a challenge for us to accomplish all the things we have planned," said Joan Meekins, program administrator for the Office of Tourism. "But tourism is still working in Carroll County."


The proposed library system budget is 11.6 percent higher in fiscal 1994 than in the current year, mostly because the Mount Airy branch will be in its first full year of operation.

The total proposed library budget for fiscal 1994 is $3.7 million, or $387,685 more than for the current fiscal year.

Bureau of Aging

The commissioners propose giving the Bureau of Aging $43,255 more than the current fiscal year.

The money will pay the salaries of the senior center manager at the Mount Airy Library/Senior Center that opened in January and of the South Carroll Senior Center manager.

"The commissioners have been very supportive of aging," Bureau Chief Janet B. Flora said. "They continue to exhibit a sincere interest in our clients and a real concern."

The total proposed budget is $514,205.

Cooperative Extension Service

The commissioners propose to increase the county's contribution to the extension service by 11.7 percent, or $27,495. The money will pay benefits for staffers whose benefits were cut by the state.

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