The budget barrage intensified yesterday, as six department heads filed past the county commissioners and delivered their stripped-down spending requests for the coming fiscal year.
For the most part, administrators have adhered to a missive to keep money requests within spending limits for the current year.
"We're down to the bare bones," said Humane Society Director Carolyn N. Ratliff, a comment typical of those heard throughout the day by the commissioners.
Ratliff requested of $351,735, up 2.4 percentfrom the current year's $343,375. Before state cuts in aid to counties forced the commissioners to reduce the budget, the society was allocated $353,275.
"Basically, this is our 1992 budget," said JoleneG. Sullivan, director of the Department of Citizens Services. Sullivan presented a request for $601,440, down less than 1 percent from the $603,525 budgeted for the current year.
The department, which was created after the original 1992 allocation, consolidates human service functions in Carroll, including the bureaus of aging, housing andcommunity development, and youth services.
As county department heads begin to shape budgets against a backdrop of fiscal blight, theyare discovering a vexing paradox. On the one hand, crafting a spending plan is little more than warming over the current year's budget.
However, administrators are struggling to keep up with increasing costs of doing business, while grappling with the frustration of having to limit or reduce services.
"I hope you will see fit not to cutus back, because we don't know what in the world we'll do if you do," Ratliff told the commissioners.
The commissioners also received the budget request of the Department of Administrative Services, which is asking for $1,212,110, up 2.6 percent from the 1992's revised allocation of $1,181,355.
The department, also created after the original 1992 budget was completed, comprises 12 sub-units of county government, from environmental services to zoning appeals to tourism.
The plan submitted yesterday by Human Services Program Inc. asks forabout 1 percent less than the revised allocation for the current year. The non-profit corporation, which administers and operates homeless shelter programs in Carroll, is requesting $326,225. That is down from $329,870 for the current year, which was revised down from $551,465.
"Our request is fairly plain vanilla," said HSP Director Silvia Canon.
The commissioners also received a budget request from theDepartment of Human Resources and Personnel Services. The department, which oversees employment and personnel responsibilities for countygovernment, is asking for $5.2 million, an increase of 11.5 percent over the current year's revised amount of $4.6 million, which was slightly less than the original 1992 allocation.
As did other administrators, Director Jimmie L. Saylor said increases lie mostly in growing costs such as health-care benefits and insurance.
"It doesn't ask for anything new or different," Saylor said. "It's pretty much thesame old stuff."
The commissioners also reviewed the proposed budget for their own office and operations. The $245,890 request is up 2.2 percent from the 1992 allocation of $240,514 (the original allocation was $347,545.)
This month, the commissioners are receiving budget proposals from all county departments and agencies. Departments heads will return for budget work sessions with the commissioners nextmonth.
The commissioners are expected to unveil a final budget and tax rate in early April.
"Our position right now is we're not committing ourselves to anything," Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said yesterday.