The Carroll County commissioners unveiled yesterday a proposed $325.3 million operating budget and a $206.8 million capital spending plan for next year that includes funding for a new $79 million northeast area high school - a project that Hampstead and Manchester parents had demanded but school and county officials had considered delaying.
The operating budget, a 7.5 percent increase over the current fiscal year, presents few surprises, county budget director Ted Zaleski said.
The Carroll County public schools would receive an additional $6 million in operating funds next year, $3.6 million less than Zaleski had initially recommended to the commissioners. That could strain the county Board of Education's plan to raise school employees' salaries next year, Zaleski said.
In addition to the new high school, other education projects are included in the proposed six-year capital plan. Building a middle school and an elementary school in populous South Carroll, a fine-arts addition at South Carroll High School, a new $28 million heating and cooling system at Westminster High School and enclosures for the county's four remaining schools with open-space classrooms are the major education projects that Zaleski discussed.
Nearly $37 million is budgeted for a fourth classroom building at growing Carroll Community College, but he said more than half of that money comes from the state.
New state and federal regulations also will require major expenditures to expand the county's water supply and upgrade its wastewater treatment plants, Zaleski said.
About $2 million has been earmarked for initial engineering next year on two proposed county reservoirs - one at Union Mills and the other at Gillis Falls, projects that will cost at least $160 million to construct and face regulatory hurdles, county officials have said.
Other proposals include $10.8 million for preservation of agricultural land and a new $25 million criminal justice building.