Budget plans for school, roadwork

April 11, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll County should build a middle school in New Windsor, expand its airport, renovate more government buildings to be accessible to the handicapped and repave a road near Sykesville in the next fiscal year. These projects are among many included in a $31.5 million capital budget recommended to the county commissioners by their budget staff.

The commissioners met with the staff last week to begin drafting a budget for fiscal 1994, which begins July 1. They are scheduled to continue their work tomorrow.

They said last week they will not increase the property tax rate of $2.35 per $100 of assessed value but may consider raising the 50 percent piggyback tax.

The commissioners will receive public input about their proposals at hearings next month. The budget must be adopted the end of May.

Proposed spending on capital projects is 33.5 percent higher than in the current year, according to the budget staff.

The capital budget is about 25 percent of the total county budget. The total budget for the coming fiscal year is expected to be $124 million.

The budget staff recommended that the largest part of the capital budget -- $11.3 million -- be spent on education. Almost $8 million of that will be used to pay for the new middle school.

General government projects, which include airport expansion, aHumane Society addition and renovations at the courthouse annex, should receive $10.3 million, the staff members said.

Public works projects, which include road and bridge repair and landfill work, should receive $7.7 million, they said.

Land preservation and conservation should receive $1.6 million, and culture and recreation should receive $672,200, they said.

Because revenues remain tight, the commissioners continue to weigh their spending options. Building and renovating schools to relieve crowding is a priority, as are road repairs, they said.

"You're going to have a very difficult decision between schools and roads, and you can't neglect one or the other," Budget Director Steven D. Powell said during a budget work session Thursday.

Following are some highlights of the recommended capital budget:

* Roads -- $1.5 million to relocate one mile of Obrecht Road west of Sykesville so it will connect to Route 32 farther north than it does now; $350,000 to extend Stoner Avenue in Westminster; $275,000 to improve Pleasant Valley Road outside Westminster; and $180,000 to extend Ralph Street in Westminster.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge questioned whether the county should spend money to extend Westminster streets when outlying county roads, such as Coon Club Road, are deteriorating.

* Libraries -- The staff recommended expanding the Eldersburg branch in fiscal 1995, but the commissioners said they want to do the $1.6 million project in fiscal 1994.

Mr. Powell suggested the $1.6 million could be used for road projects if the commissioners decide not to expand the library.

* Humane Society -- The county must build a 1,200-square-foot addition at the Humane Society to house cats to comply with a state law that says cats must be housed in a separate shelter, Mr. Powell said.

The Humane Society requested $470,000 for the project, but the budget staff recommended it be built in phases. The county can afford to spend $90,000 on the project next year, staff members said.

The commissioners balked at spending that amount on the shelter.

* Courthouse annex -- Court officials need $77,500 to build two additional cells for prisoners awaiting court hearings.

* Handicapped accessibility -- The county must spend $500,000 to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that all public buildings and programs be accessible to the handicapped.

The $31.5 million proposed to be spent on capital projects is slated to come from several sources:

* Bonds -- more than $14 million, including $9.9 million in new general obligation bonds, $4 million in revenue bonds and $196,000 in reallocated bonds.

* Money from the federal government and other sources such as grants and fees -- $11.9 million, about $7.5 million of which will go toward the airport expansion. The Federal Aviation Administration is paying 90 percent of that cost.

* State money -- $3.8 million, most of which will be used to build the middle school.

* Local money -- $1.6 million for various projects.

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