County-backed budget bill draws fire Session planned for more discussion

February 17, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- Carroll commissioners should not be allowed to take back money the county contributes to state agencies, opponents of a county-sponsored bill said yesterday.

Some opponents were somewhat appeased, however, when they learned that the legislation would not apply to the Board of Education.

House Bill 559 would help Carroll better manage its budget, said Del. Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll-5A, who presented the measure at a House Appropriations Committee hearing.

If passed, the bill would allow the commissioners to take back money after it is appropriated to certain state agencies, something they cannot do now.

The legislation would apply to Circuit and Orphans courts, the sheriff's and state's attorney's offices, the elections and liquor boards, the Health Department, the Library Board and Carroll Community College.

The measure originally would have applied to the Board of Education, but the board asked to be exempted, Mr. Dixon said.

Before the General Assembly convened in January, Carroll commissioners had asked the county delegation to introduce a separate bill to give the commissioners line-item veto power over the school board budget.

The delegation did not introduce the bill, Mr. Dixon said.

The school board's $60 million budget is about half of the county's operating budget. The other state agencies the county contributes to represent about 10 percent of the county budget.

Margaret-Ann F. Howie of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education said, "It's unsound public policy to allow unbridled authority to the county commissioners."

Thomas Kelleher, a member of Local 2741 at the Carroll Board of Education and a negotiator for certain employees, also opposed the bill, which he said would have allowed the commissioners to change union contracts negotiated by the school board.

Elizabeth Buckler Veronis of the state Administrative Office of the Courts opposed the bill on behalf of the Carroll Circuit and Orphans courts.

Carroll Commissioner Julia W. Gouge was scheduled to testify in support of the bill, but didn't get there because of the snowy weather in Carroll.

The commissioners have said they need the bill in order to balance the budget in tough economic times.

Committee members agreed yesterday to discuss the bill at a work session.

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