Budget Ax Hangs Over County's Senior Programs

Meals At Centers Wouldbe One Of First Programs To Go

March 13, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

Elderly Carroll residents dependent on the county for their health, transportation, nutrition and legal needs are targeted in the latest round of proposed budget cuts.

As the county struggles to balance its proposed $112 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, the commissioners yesterday announced that cuts totaling almost $1.8 million probably will have to be made in county programs. Many of those cuts would be in services that provide the elderly and poor withmeals, home health care visits, legal aid and transportation.

"We in this county, this state and in this nation find ourselves in exceptional fiscal times," Commissioner President Donald I. Dell read from a prepared text. "This budget reduction is difficult, difficult for us as commissioners and for staff who must make difficult adjustments."

Some of those proposed adjustments include cutting the number of meals served in the county's three senior centers by 2,000,a move that would require some of the almost 3,000 seniors who are served 50,000 meals a year to provide their own meals on several days.

Also cut would be the county's senior citizen legal aid services.To save $5,000, the county proposes ending free legal aid to as manyas 150 poor elderly people, as the Department of Aging reduces the number of days its legal aid attorney is available from 2 1/2 to 1 1/2days.

The biggest cut for the Department of Aging, according to Director Jolene Sullivan, would be a 12,000-mile reduction in the amount of travel undertaken by Carroll Transit Service, the only county-financed public transportation providers for senior citizens.

That $20,000 cut would mean the transit service would stop operating for one week every three months, or that its passengers -- who already pay$2 to $10, depending on the service -- would have to pick up the cost of the entire trip. Those services are subsidized by the county at a cost of $1.52 a mile.

"This is a really tough time for everybody," Sullivan said. "If we can go through this and weather it, it should make us stronger."

Senior citizens are not the only residents who would feel the fall of the budget ax, the commissioners said duringyesterday's 45-minute press conference at the County Office Building.

Indeed, the county's Sexual Abuse Treatment Center would have toshut its doors to as many as 80 victims next year, as an $18,800 cutin its budget would leave the center short-staffed by at least one counselor.

The center served about 280 people last year and had a waiting list of 60 people. For next year, Marcia Meyer, Family and Children Services district director, said that waiting list would grow to 140, while the number of people who can be counseled will drop to about 200.

"I don't know what's going to happen to some of the people we have to put on the waiting list," she said yesterday.

And while all cuts outlined are only proposals at this point, neither the commissioners nor their staff predicted that the fiscal outlook will get any better as their June 1 budget deadline approaches.

The County Commissioners and the Office of Management and Budget have been struggling with an atypical budget season, as Carroll's current $115 million spending plan is $5.3 million in the hole, and next year's $112million budget calls for a 2 percent reduction in current spending levels.

Those mandates already have frozen salaries, killed overtime for most county workers, all but eliminated the hiring of replacement or new workers, curtailed out-of-town travel and brought on energyconservation measures.

The cuts in social services are what will result should the across-the-board 2 percent budget cut remain in effect.



* No salary increases for county government employees in fiscal 1992:$775,000.

* Training programs reduced: $3,900.


* May close one day a week (resulting in estimated loss of $2.8 million in revenues to county businesses and $38,551 in county tax revenues): $2,500.


* Home health visits cut by 10.2 percent: $15,425.


* 20 percent reduction in marketing effort: $10,415.


* 16 percent of total book budget cut: savings not given.

* Vacant positions frozen: $40,000.


* Legal aid cut will affect 150 seniors: $5,000.

* 2,000 fewer meals served through nutrition program: $6,400.

* 12,000 miles cut from transportation service: $20,000.


* 70 to 80 people will not receivegroup or individual counseling: $18,800.


* Emergency Medical Dispatch Training for 24 911 operators eliminated: $30,000.


* Basic supplies and materials to train volunteer firefighters at Fire Training Center reduced: $5,500.

* Length of Service Award Program and death benefits being negotiated: $24,840.

* County contributions kept at 70 percent: $316,190.


* Transportation Master Plan and other studies cutor postponed: $113,000.


* Special renovations and modifications to the county's 34 buildings cut from the requested $1.3 million to $100,000: $273,000.


* 20 percent reduction in road miles paved or resurfaced: $90,000.


* 50 percent cut in number of retrofit kits purchased to support the Water Conservation Program: $27,250.

* Education process limited: savings not given.

SOURCE: Public Information Office

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