County looks for a way to make cuts Budget must trim by $5 million

September 20, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer Staff writer Anne Haddad contributed to this report.

County commissioners will start looking this week for ways to cut another $5 million from the county budget while trying to avoid layoffs.

Layoffs are an option, but one the board "will fight hard against," Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said.

"I'm not anticipating layoffs, but furloughs are possible," Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said.

County officials learned Thursday they would have to cut about $5 million from Carroll's $119.3 million fiscal '93 budget when Gov. William Donald Schaefer announced his plan to balance the state's budget and erase a half-billion-dollar deficit.

"We're getting more experienced in handling this, but the problem is getting more acute," Mr. Lippy said.

The commissioners will consider cutting the budget in ways they have used since the budget crunch started about two years ago, he said. They probably will continue a salary and hiring freeze, cut travel time and money, and consider furloughs, he said.

"Each time we cut, we get closer to the bone, and have fewer options left," Mr. Lippy said.

The commissioners have decreased the county work force by 7.5 percent since last year through attrition, he said.

As of Sept. 1, the county had 807 employees. This includes full-time, part-time, temporary and grant-funded employees, plus workers in the sheriff's and state's attorney's offices and Circuit Court.

Last year, the commissioners ordered employees to take two or four furlough days, depending on their salary, to save $230,000. They later rescinded the mandate.

Mr. Dell said Friday he would rather see all employees furloughed for a few days than some employees laid off.

Because education accounts for about half of the county's total operating budget, the Board of Education may have to absorb half of the $5 million cut, Mr. Dell said.

School officials are bracing for more cuts by freezing several positions and limiting principals' spending on supplies, said William Hyde, assistant superintendent for administration.

Principals and directors already had been told to spend no more than half of their supply budgets before Sept. 30, Mr. Hyde said. Normally, they would have spent most of the money buying supplies in advance to be used throughout the year, he said.

Also, Superintendent R. Edward Shilling told the school board last week he is freezing more than seven teaching positions, three administrative jobs and six classified positions until getting more information on budget cuts.

Mr. Hyde said no layoffs are planned, but, "It's impossible totell," he said.

Carroll Community College has frozen more than 17 full-time faculty positions because officials estimate they may have to cut another $459,372 from the $6.3 million budget for 1993, said Alan Schuman, director of administration.

Those positions are needed if the college is to maintain the 22-to-1 student-instructor ratio, he said. If the positions aren't filled, classes will be larger, he said.

J. Elizabeth Garraway, president of the Maryland Independent Colleges and Universities Association, said private schools, such Western Maryland College, should expect from 12 to 25 percent cuts in their state funding.

WMC spokesman Chris Hart said WMC received about $1.2 million in aid from the state last year that went toward scholarships and operating costs.

County Budget Director Steven D. Powell said he will meet with budget officials from other counties this week to help determine how the state's 23 counties can equitably divide the $150 million in cuts Mr. Schaefer says must come from local governments.

Carroll's portion probably will be around $5 million, based on a formula that takes into account the population and wealth of the county, he said.

"The bottom line is we're getting a very large piece of the reduction," MACO Executive Director David S. Bliden said.

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