Marriage fee rise would aid domestic abuse program

February 24, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

A $10 increase in Carroll's marriage license fee would raise about $12,000 a year to pay for programs to help victims of domestic violence.

Sandra L. Rappeport, Domestic Violence Program director, told the commissioners yesterday that the increase -- from $25 to $35 -- is needed. The commissioners agreed.

A public hearing on the increase is scheduled at 3 p.m. tomorrow in Room 300A of the County Office Building in Westminster.

The county budget office proposed increasing the marriage license fee in October when the domestic violence program lost an $11,000 grant from the federal Victims of Crime Assistance program.

If the increase is approved this month, it would take effect in March, and the Domestic Violence Program would begin receiving more money immediately, budget analyst Stephen Pyne said.

The program currently receives $15 from every marriage license purchased in Carroll, he said. The county sells about 1,200 licenses a year.

The Domestic Violence Program provides shelter, a 24-hour hot line, counseling, legal referral and other services for victims of domestic violence.

Yesterday, the commissioners reviewed the program's budget.

As recommended by the county budget office, the program's budget for fiscal 1994, which begins July 1, is $177,525. The county contributes 26 percent, client fees and the United Way account for 35 percent, the state contributes 25 percent and the federal government 14 percent.

Ms. Rappeport asked for $8,730 more from the county for the coming fiscal year, but the increase would be covered entirely by the marriage license fee increase, she said.

The county's portion would be $45,325 for fiscal 1994.

The commissioners must cut about $3.4 million from agency requests for fiscal 1994 before adopting the budget in late May.

Carroll's current operating budget is $119 million. Next year's operating budget will be about $124.8 million.

The other two budgets the commissioners reviewed yesterday were:

* Sexual Abuse Treatment Center, which works to protect children from further abuse and counsels incestuous families.

The county provides 73 percent of the center's total budget. The center's recommended budget for fiscal 1994 is $321,705. The county would contribute $234,270, a $6,715 increase over the current fiscal year.

The center needs more county money because its support from the United Way was cut 14 percent, said Ms. Rappeport, also director of the center. United Way might cut its support by another 20 percent because donations are down, she said.

The United Way contributes 3 percent of the center's budget, client fees make up 18 percent, the Rape Crisis Center contributes 4 percent, the federal government contributes 1 percent and private fund-raising contributes 1 percent.

* Change Inc., formerly Carroll Haven, which is a private, nonprofit organization that provides services and employment for people with several developmental disabilities.

The group did not ask for an increase in county funding for fiscal 1994. The county contributed $36,495 in the current year.

Change Inc. has a total budget of $1.3 million and also receives state and private money.

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