Agencies Are Low-key On Spending

1993 Budget Review Offers No Surprises

March 11, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

So far, Carroll's annual budget review process has been mostly painless for the commissioners.

Most agencies and departments have submitted proposed fiscal 1993 spending plans that match or fall slightlybelow this year.

Things are a little more complicated than they appear, though. The commissioners are awaiting the legislature's final action on cuts to meet state budget deficits and how that action will affect next year's fiscal picture.

"It's possible some of these recommendations may have to be adjusted upon further input once the legislature is finished," said Jeff Topper, a county budget analyst.

While there appear to be no silver linings, there are occasionally budget-trimming or revenue-generating proposals that cause the commissioners some glee.

Take, for instance, a proposal under consideration by the General Assembly that would enable the state's Youth Services Bureaus to charge clients a fee for counseling and other services. Currently, theyare not authorized to do so.

Carroll's Youth Services Bureau, which submitted a $284,130 budget for next fiscal year -- the same as its revised 1992 budget -- would like to take advantage of that program, if approved.

Bureau officials told the commissioners Monday thatthey could charge as much as $35 an hour or whatever clients can afford, generating much-needed money for the agency. Clients would not be forced to pay and nobody would be refused services.

Officials estimate they could recoup 25 percent to 50 percent of the costs under YSB's budget.

Asked whether they had any aversion to such a plan, as some government entities might, the commissioners and budget staffshook their heads and laughed.

"We'll take it," said Steven D. Powell, director of Management and Budget.

Added Commissioner Elmer Lippy: "We don't have that kind of philosophy here."

Yesterday, the Department of Public Works submitted a $7.76 million budget for fiscal 1993. The proposed spending plan is just 0.78 percent or $59,965 more than the revised 1992 budget.

"I think we held the line pretty well," said Gary Horst, a county budget analyst.

Various programs within the department submitted individual budgets that ranged froma 37.8 percent decrease in administration costs to a 1.5 percent increase in engineering and construction inspection.

Horst said across-the-board cuts in travel and conference expenses were made in all programs.

Also submitted with the Department of Public Works budgetwere separate funds for public utilities, including the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund.

Horst said he will have to return to the commissioners with the costs associated with beginning a countywide recyclingprogram, which would be budgeted under that fund.

Other budgets submitted:

* Health Department, which is asking for $2.05 million, 0.3 percent less than its revised 1992 budget. Officials noted the possibility of receiving an additional $424,694 in state dollars, whichwould be used to "enhance maternity and family planning services."

* Agriculture Extension Service, which is seeking $232,025, a 1.3 percent increase from the revised 1992 budget. The boost is needed to offset a reduction in state dollars for the Farm Management Program, which serves as a consultant to local farmers.

* Elections board, which is asking for $206,510, 13.8 percent less than the revised 1992budget. Reductions stem from reduced overtime for staff, cuts in travel and business expenses and printing services.

* Carroll County Association for Retarded Citizens, whose recommended budget is $23,520, the same as fiscal 1992.

* Target Inc. has asked for $19,210, the same amount in the revised 1992 budget.

* Carroll Hospice's recommended spending plan is $11,500, 23 percent less than the revised 1992 budget.

* Historic District Commission, which has asked for $665 -- the same amount earmarked in the revised 1992 budget. The figure represents only the costs necessary for administrative supplies andstationery.

* Carroll County Historical Society, a non-profit organization, is seeking $15,000, the same amount budgeted in the revised 1992 fiscal plan.

* Civil Air Patrol, which is seeking $12,130, 7.2 percent less than the revised 1992 budget.

Topper said the budget review process will last through March 24. On that date, the commissioner will begin work sessions to make any modifications to proposed spending plans.

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