Budget crunch to ease this year, county predicts Rosier 1993 seen by commissioners

January 15, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

This year will be better than last, the Carroll commissioners said yesterday in their "State of the County" address.

The budget crunch will ease, Carroll will have more clout in Annapolis, the county will explore building an incinerator and Carroll Community College will be closer to achieving independence, they said.

The commissioners gave their annual address at a Chamber of Commerce lunch at Martin's Westminster before about 120 people.

"Money, money, money. 1992 was the year of money, or rather the year of figuring out how to do with less money," said Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy.

"It made the job so hard."

"We have the ability to recover, and we will. We must look forward," Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said.

Last year, the commissioners cut $5.2 million from the county's $119.3 million operating budget to help deal with the state's half-billion-dollar deficit.

They worked to distribute the cuts as fairly as possible, Mr. Lippy said. The budget crunch should not be as severe this year, but the county will continue to watch its spending carefully, he said.

If the county were serving a meal, it would skip the appetizer, salad and dessert and serve only an entree, he said.

Mrs. Gouge said the county should benefit from her connections in Annapolis.

She recently was elected first vice president of the Maryland Association of Counties and also is MACo's legislative committee chairwoman, giving Carroll a louder voice with state legislative leaders, she said.

"It puts us on the map," Mrs. Gouge said, adding that House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. congratulated her on being elected to the office. A year ago, he did not know her, she said.

Mrs. Gouge urged residents to let the commissioners know when they are concerned about issues. She said the commissioners do not always agree, and added that the public isn't always aware of that.

"Quite often, the minority view gets lost to public view," she said.

Mrs. Gouge did not mention specific board decisions, but she was in the minority on a recent vote to buy a 104-acre Westminster farm for more than the appraised price. The land was needed for the expanded runway at the Carroll County Regional Airport.

"Your role as citizens is to speak up strongly and let your voice be heard. This is your government," she said.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said he is excited about the prospects of building an incinerator to dispose of the county's trash.

"I think Carroll County is ready for a waste-to-energy facility," he said.

Last week, the commissioners appointed a 23-member committee to study the issue.

"The most important thing we need to do is educate the public," he added.

As the commissioners' representative on the Board of Education, Mr. Dell said more communication is needed between the commissioners and the school board. In the past, the two boards have not always worked well together.

"More communication and understanding will solve a lot of problems. The controversy of the past is a serious blemish on the county and our school system," he said.

Mr. Dell said he does not support giving the commissioners a line-item veto over the school board budget.

"Line-item veto can be a very dangerous authority if used in a vindictive manner," he said.

"County commissioners are generally not qualified to make discretionary education budget cuts."

The commissioners have asked Carroll's legislative delegation for a bill giving them line-item veto power.

One positive thing that happened in 1992 was that the community college is on its way to achieving independence from Catonsville Community College, Mr. Lippy said.

This will give local officials more power over financial and other decisions at the college, which is an "architectural and intellectual jewel," he said.

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