Agency wish lists likely to outrun county revenues Planning panel hears requests for budget funds

October 01, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Libraries, jail cells, emergency radios, tourism centers and more shelter rooms for cats are all projects the county could fund next fiscal year.

But is there enough money?

Yesterday, the Planning Commission began the process of placing drafting a priority list for capital budget projects at a daylong session at which department heads and others pitched their ideas.

The process continues today and tomorrow. The commission -- with help from the county budget and planning staffs -- will recommend to the county commissioners by Dec. 11 which projects should be funded.

Planning Director Edmund R. Cueman warned that less county money will be available for fiscal year 1994, which begins July 1.

In the current fiscal year, the county spent -- in cash and bonds -- about $16.5 million for capital projects. Next year, it's possible only half that will be available through local funding, he said.

Local tax money accounts for about 70 percent of the capital budget. Other money comes from state, federal and other sources. Total spending on capital projects in the current fiscal year was $23.6 million.

The Planning Commission heard yesterday from:

* Carroll Community College. The top priority is building a 51,000-square-foot, 40,000-volume library for $10.2 million, said Executive Dean Joseph F. Shields.

The state would pay $5.5 million of the total cost and the county $4.8 million, said Alan Schuman, director of administration. The college asked for $586,500 in fiscal year '94, $219,000 of that from Carroll.

The library is needed because the college is seeking accreditation, independent from Catonsville Community College, Dr. Shields said.

* Sheriff's Department. Officials asked for $87,300 to add three holding cells in the courthouse annex for prisoners awaiting court appearances. More room is needed because the two existing cells usually are overcrowded, Sheriff John H. Brown said.

"With the increase in crime, the problem just seems to escalate," he said.

* Emergency Operations. Officials want to begin acquiring an upgraded radio system, which would cost $6.3 million and allow emergency personnel to communicate more efficiently.

There is "a traffic jam" on channels now, Director of General Services J. Michael Evans said.

Officials asked for $860,535 in fiscal year 1994. The largest allocation -- $3.5 million -- will be requested for fiscal year 1996.

* Public Libraries. The top priority is expanding the Eldersburg branch, Library Director Martha Makosky said. The current 15,000-square-foot facility was built 10 years ago and is heavily used because of the growing population in the area.

Officials want to renovate 5,000 square feet in the building currently used by the county health department and add another 5,000 square feet, she said.

The library is asking the county for $109,200 in fiscal year 1994 and $1.6 million in fiscal year 1995.

Ms. Makosky also asked for $133,500 to rent space in Sandymount for a branch library.

* Tourism. The Westminster Tourism Information Center must move from 210 E. Main St. to the Glass building beside the Barrel House on Railroad Avenue, said Deputy Director of Administrative Services Micki Smith.

The current building also houses the county historical society, which is expanding.

That project would cost $378,400.

The county also is working with officials in Frederick County, Mount Airy and the state government to open a tourist center in Mount Airy, said Mayor Gerald R. Johnson Jr.

Costs could change, but Ms. Smith asked for $75,000 in fiscal year 1994 and $552,700 in fiscal 1998.

* Humane Society. Director Nicky Ratliff asked for $470,000 to expand the animal shelter on Route 97 to house more strays.

But, she added, "I feel funny asking for a shelter expansion when people are losing their jobs."

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