Commissioners wrestle with budget

April 09, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll County commissioners huddled with their budget staff for about seven hours yesterday as they tried to stretch tax dollars over as many projects as they could in drafting next year's budget.

They still must decide whether to give county and school employees pay raises.

"We've talked about it," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell.

"We're working on it," said Commissioners Elmer C. Lippy and Julia W. Gouge.

They are to discuss the issue at another work session Monday. County employees have not received a raise in three years.

The commissioners said they are not considering raising property taxes and probably will not increase the piggyback tax.

But, Mr. Lippy said, "I don't consider it a closed option."

If the board voted to increase the piggyback tax this spring, the increase wouldn't take effect until January, said Budget Director Steven D. Powell.

Carroll's property tax rate of $2.35 per $100 of assessed valuation has not increased since 1990. The piggyback tax is 50 percent of the state tax.

The budget for fiscal 1994, which begins July 1, has been a challenge to balance. Income tax revenues are expected to be 4 percent higher than last year, and overall revenues are expected to be 5 percent to 6 percent higher.

But requests from county agencies and departments are at least $3.4 million above revenues. The exact amount the commissioners may cut from the requests won't be known until they make a decision about salary increases, Mr. Powell said.

The total operating budget will be about $124 million in the next fiscal year, some $5 million more than the current budget.

The county commissioners also discussed capital projects yesterday, including schools, roads and libraries.

They said they want to build Oklahoma Road Middle School in 1995 instead of 1996 to help relieve crowding at Sykesville Middle School, but they must first get state approval, Mr. Powell said.

The new school, which would contain a regional special education center, is projected to cost $12 million.

The commissioners also agreed to make additions and renovations to Taneytown Elementary School in 1995 instead of 1996.

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