Cuts' impact unclear, director says

July 19, 1992|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

The governor's plan to cut $665,000 in aid to Carroll for public safety, health and education won't have an immediate impact on services or personnel, said the county's budget director.

The county doesn't plan to address the cuts until income tax receipts from the second quarter of 1992 are available next month, said Steven D. Powell, Department of Management and Budget director, at a Thursday meeting with the county commissioners and agency heads.

"We need to know what we have from 1992 to know how to address 1993," said Mr. Powell.

The state plan to close a $90 million deficit from the fiscal year that ended June 30 includes $40 million in cuts to local governments. Carroll's share includes $64,896 for non-mandated education programs, $287,845 for local health programs, $204,820 for public safety and $107,030 for Carroll Community College.

Education cuts will affect programs for abused children, suicide prevention, teen pregnancy, youths at risk of dropping out, disabled students and adult education. School administrators can transfer money from other areas to cover those programs, most of which start in September.

Educators don't have sufficient detail from the state to evaluate the severity of the cuts, since some programs are financed by several grants, said William Hyde, assistant superintendent. In anticipation of state shortfalls, school administrators set up guidelines to conserve money throughout the year as a "cushion" to allow transfers, said Mr. Hyde.

Other state cuts could affect programs for the elderly, said Bureau of Aging Chief Janet Flora.

Mr. Powell said higher-than-anticipated investment interest earnings and income tax revenues could help the county compensate for the cuts, which are expected to be the first in a series from the state to counter a fiscal 1993 shortfall pegged at about $170 million.

Mr. Powell said he believes the state's estimates are high for income tax revenues and low for refunds, and that the shortfall will expand. He warned the agency heads to prepare for at least another $1.8 million in cuts this year, based on Carroll's typical proportion of local aid reductions.

When revenues are known, the county will decide how to compensate for the cuts and what programs to restore, said Mr. Powell. "Agencies will work with [the county commissioners] to determine the ramifications ."

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said county agencies were asked to hold spending to an "absolute minimum." The county might be able to compensate for cuts by trimming department budgets and consolidating some services.

"We'll have to go back into the budgets of all departments, including the Board of Education," said Mrs. Gouge, who voted against granting schools a $2 million supplement because it required depleting reserve accounts.

The county has about $2.4 million in reserve, which should be maintained, Mr. Powell said.

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