Commissioners hear of $9 million proposed for jail, law enforcement; Fiscal 2000 figure could rise depending on moves in Assembly

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The cost of law enforcement and jailing offenders in Carroll will rise to nearly $9 million in fiscal 2000, the county commissioners learned yesterday during informal budget meetings with state police and the county sheriff.

That figure could climb if pending legislation in Annapolis increases salaries and benefits for troopers, or fails to hold an expected 1.26 percent rise in retirement benefits, state police officials said yesterday.

Resident troopers serve as Carroll County's main police force. Their salaries and benefits, patrol cruisers, gasoline and other costs are paid by the county.

Included in the county cost is reimbursement to the state for indirect expenses, such as personnel training, car and equipment repairs, said Carl Banaszewski, state police budget director.

If the budget proposal submitted yesterday by Banaszewski and Lt. Jack Bowman, coordinator of the state police Resident Trooper Program, is not changed by legislation, the county's cost for police and jail services will increase by $502,000 over fiscal 1999.

Resident troopers will account for $121,000 of the increase.

Sheriff's services account for $183,000 of the increase, and the detention center accounts for the remaining $198,000.

Banaszewski said 11 state police patrol cars must be replaced in the fleet of 46 because they have "well above 100,000 miles on them." Three new cars would cost $80,000, he said.

Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning submitted a $5 million budget -- $1.7 million for sheriff's services and $3.3 million for detention center operations.

Still unresolved on Tregoning's wish list is a request for $46,000 to hire a fiscal specialist. Tregoning said a specialist would free Warden Mason Waters and other staff for police business.

Tregoning and Waters lobbied to have the county's "171 program" eliminated. The program prohibits deputies and correctional officers from collecting overtime unless they work at least 171 hours in a 28-day period.

"It's unfair and unpopular," Tregoning said. "It hurts staff morale."

Tregoning said he would hold open a vacancy if the commissioners would eliminate the program and provide that money for overtime costs for a year.

"We want to show you for one year that we can [control overtime costs] and are asking that you eliminate '171,' after we have proven we can," he said.

Waters also asked for $35,000 to hire a second correctional counselor.

He told the commissioners the ratio of one counselor to an average 180 inmates is unacceptable. The counselor-inmate ratio is lower in other counties, he noted.

Gouge and Dell questioned Tregoning and Waters on two concerns: the proposed housing of U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization Service prisoners awaiting deportation trials and the screening of inmates allowed work-release.

He said that because Carroll's judges had agreed to recommend and not order work-release for defendants, his staff has conducted the screening and experienced fewer problems.

The number of inmates on work-release is 46, down from about 60 when Tregoning took office in December.

The loss in revenue -- inmates on work-release pay the county $70 a week for the privilege -- will more than be covered by a saving in overtime costs. Deputies track down inmates who walk off their jobs and don't return, Tregoning said.

He also noted that housing 16 illegal immigrants would net the county $325,000 a year, offsetting additional costs for fiscal 2000.

Tregoning said he understood that a contract has been approved by INS officials.

Earlier yesterday, the commissioners approved Carroll Community College's plans for two buildings that will house an art gallery, fitness center, business and industry center and general classrooms.

The $13 million project is in the capital budget and did not need funding approval by commissioners yesterday. The college did need the commissioners' approval of the blueprints, however, before they could be sent to the state's Department of General Services. All three commissioners voted to approve the plans.

The county's Office of Management and Budget has recommended a 3 percent increase -- $79,000 -- for the college in the year 2000 budget, bringing the county's support for the college to $2.7 million.

College President Joseph F. Shields, who is retiring June 30, told the commissioners he appreciated their support.

"I just want to thank you for eight good years," he said. "I could turn to you any time and everything the college wanted to do was supported."

Faye Pappalardo, former vice president of academic affairs, will succeed Shields, taking over July 1.

Sun staff writer Kristine Henry contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 3/24/99

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