Aged, Abused Spared By Budget Restoration

March 24, 1991|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

Feeding the elderly poor and counseling sexual abuse victims are more important to the Carroll Commissioners than sending county employees to conventions and seminars.

During the second round of budget hearings Thursday, the commissioners restored social programs that only a week ago were proposed to be cut from next year's $112 million budget.

"We made a conscious effort find some money elsewhere in the budget," said Commissioner Julia W. Gouge. "Those social services have tobe a priority."

She said much of the restored money comes from travel budgets in county agencies. More than $10,000 was trimmed from the travel and business conference fund in the Department of Management and Budget's spending plan.

The social services -- meals and legal advice for the elderly, counseling for battered spouses and children, and additional life-saving training for 911 operators -- make up a relatively small portion of the amount of money the county expects to spend in the year beginning July 1.

But the impact of the $58,400 worth of program cuts to county residents was considered much greater than the help it would givethe county's bottom line.

"As the commissioners and agencies go through their budgets, they are able to find ways to add back some of the cuts," said Steven D. Powell, county management and budget director. "With what we've been able to cut in some places, we're able to add to other places."

Not all cuts proposed a week ago were restored. While the Department of Aging will be able to supply a full 50,000 meals a year at its three senior centers, it still has to find ways to cut more than 12,000 miles from the schedule of Carroll Transit Service.

"I am very pleased with the cuts that were restored," Department of Aging Director Jolene Sullivantold the commissioners Thursday afternoon. "I had one of the best days in weeks when I saw that money was restored.

"But, unfortunately, transportation is the worst problem facing seniors in this county."

One of the ways Sullivan and the commissioners think transportation and other needs might be met is actually an idea espoused by the Bush Administration these days -- find volunteers.

Sullivan said she is looking into forming a cadre of senior volunteers to provide transportation, help with meals and do other tasks.

The county battered spouse program and sexual abuse treatment center also got a slight budgetary reprieve.

The program director said last week that an $18,800 cut from her budget would mean both services would have to turn people away. Now, says Family and Children's Services Marcia Meyer, those services will be able to maintain this year's counseling levels.

"They put enough back in there so I don't have to make cuts inthose areas," she said. "I won't be able to expand, but I won't haveto turn as many people away, either."

This year, the Sexual AbuseCenter is serving about 280 people and had a waiting list of about 60; the cut would have increased that number to 140.

All told, the commissioners reviewed eight budgets totaling about $10.1 million Thursday. That figure is nearly 4 percent greater than this year's $9.7 million, but about 7 percent below the$10.8 million requested by the eight agencies.

Other agency budgets reviewed include:

* Department of Management and Budget, up 0.4 percent from this year's $1.88 million.

* Emergency Services, up 3.81 percent from this year's $871,195.

* Sheriff's Department, up 8.54 percent from this year's $2.4 million.

* Volunteer fire departments, up 4.6 percent from this year's $1.9 million.

* Animal Control, down 4.7 percent from 1991's $371,940.

* Permits and Regulations, up 3.07 percent from thisyear's $1.4 million.

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