WESTMINSTER — Carroll Sheriff John H. Brown turned the tables on the County Commissioners last week by doing something other county agencies haven't tried during this budget-crunching season.
He wrote them a $1,200 check.
He said the money came from a Lexington, Ky., advertising firm that prints calendars urging people to fight drug abuse. Brown said thecompany approached him and took several pictures illustrating the duties of the Sheriff's Department.
The company then sold advertising space on the calendar to Carroll businesses. The calendars are being circulated in the county for free.
Brown said the money came from calendar proceeds.
"I got this check, but I wasn't sure what to do with it," said Brown, who added that he checked with state SpecialProsecutor Stephen Montanarelli to make sure he could accept the money.
Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy Jr. said they were surprised by the sheriff's gift. Dell asked Brown where he thought the money should go.
"It's up to you where the money is spent,"said Brown. "I just hope you can show us some kindness and consideration when you take a look at our budget request."
Brown has come under fire for his budget request for fiscal 1992, which included a 15percent increase over the current budget.
His campaign platform was built on his belief that the public should not have to pay increased taxes to expand the Sheriff's Department. So county officials say they were surprised to see him asking for a 1992 budget of $1.1 million for sheriff services and $1.63 million for the county Detention Center. The department received $878,785 for sheriff services and $1.49million for the center in 1991.
But Brown, a Baltimore City police officer for 25 years, maintains he would not have had to ask for such an increase if the department had been managed properly before he took over.
He told the commissioners that when he came to the office in December, a large backlog of warrants and court documents were waiting to be served.
"Like I said during my campaign, I want to concentrate on performing the mandated duties of the Sheriff's Department and ease up on the criminal enforcement," Brown said.
Brown said during January and February 1990, the sheriff's deputies wrote 336traffic citations. During the same time this year, only 99 were written.
By concentrating on serving court papers and transporting prisoners, the backlog has been "tremendously reduced," he said.
He said he is considering several ways to reduce costs. Sheriff's deputies are conducting a survey using four cruisers to see if gas mileage can be improved if lights on top of the cars are removed.
So far, two deputies have reported an improvement in gas mileage, he said.
The commissioners commended Brown for trying to save money, but said they were concerned that the cruisers are not visible enough without the roof lights.
"A highly visible, well-marked police car creates a halo effect for anyone that sees it," said Lippy. "This might be a case where we have to sacrifice the savings."
Brown said he is not convinced the lights should permanently be removed from the cars,but will wait to make a decision after the study is completed in sixmonths.
"It was just a thought," he said. "You're never too old to learn something."