A Mixed Budget Bag For Carroll

Increase Of 5.5 Percent From State, But Cuts In Health, Public Safety

February 03, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

ANNAPOLIS — The practically no-growth, 1991-1992 proposed state operating budget shows a 5.5 percent overall increase in assistance for Carroll programs, but reflects declines in aid for health and public safety and little growth in transportation revenues.

The proposed 3 percent decline in assistance for county health programs -- from $4.6 million this year to $4.47 million -- indicates the hardship the state faces inconstructing a balanced fiscal 1992 budget during a sluggish economy. State financing for health and social services generally would remain level or be reduced, and numerous jobs would be cut under the proposed budget.

Under the $11.6 billion operating budget unveiled by Gov. WilliamDonald Schaefer Friday, $78.7 million in aid is targeted to Carroll -- $75.7 million for education, health, transportation, public safetyand environmental programs and an additional $3 million in shared state taxes for unrestricted use.

It would be a $4.1 million increase over this year's state allocation of $74.6 million for Carroll programs. However, the Schaefer administration has proposed reducing aid to counties to compensate for the current $427 million budget deficit, including about $733,000 from Carroll.

The proposal would provide a $3.9 million boost in aid for Carroll education programs, increasing assistance from $58.4 million to $62.3 million. Most other countyprograms that get state assistance would remain about level or be reduced. Coupled with the county's slowdown in revenue growth, many Carroll agencies will be unable to expand services to meet growing needs.

State aid for Carroll general health services, mental health services and drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs all are between 6 percent and 20 percent less than originally proposed for the 1990-1991 budget.

"I've been expecting another round of cuts," said Dr. Janet Neslen, health officer for the Carroll County Health Department.

State aid for public safety -- including police and fire protection -- would be decreased from $2.40 million to $2.17 million.

Carroll's estimated portion of the state's Transportation Revenue Sharing Fund for fiscal 1992 would be $616,000, less than 1 percent more than the county received in 1990 and 1991.

The fund's revenues -- derived from vehicle titling taxes and corporate income taxes -- have stagnated. Overall transportation assistance would increase by only 1.9 percent, from $5.7 million to $5.8 million -- a result of sagging state transportation revenues.

Under the plan, state aid to Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore City would increase by 5.3 percent overall, from $2.567 billion this year to $2.705 billion in the coming year.

The overall 1 percent increase in the proposed state budget --which would be the smallest increase since 1945 -- reflects projections of a marked slowdown in revenues compared to the 1980s. State budget analysts already have taken into account an estimated $225 million revenue shortfall in preparing the plan.

Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which will review and possibly cut the proposed budget, said next year's budget should not be increased at all over this year's because of the shaky revenue outlook.

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