Fiscal '94 budget due out Thursday Salaries among undecided issues

April 13, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Carroll's commissioners said yesterday they expect to release their proposed budget for fiscal year 1994 on Thursday.

Today, they were to continue to work on the issue of salary increases. They were scheduled to meet with representatives of the Maryland Classified Employees Association, which represents some county employees.

The association is expected to ask for raises for employees, the commissioners said. An association representative could not be reached for comment last night.

County employees have not had a pay raise in three years.

The commissioners also are considering a request from the Board of Education for 3 percent raises for school employees.

The county budget for fiscal 1994 is expected to be about $124 million, about $5 million more than the current budget. The commissioners have said they do not plan to raise property taxes, but may consider raising the piggyback tax.

But Commissioner Donald I. Dell said yesterday it's not likely they will raise the piggyback tax. The Carroll piggyback tax is 50 percent of the state income tax.

"I think we'll get through this budget year OK," Mr. Dell said.

The county's property tax rate, $2.35 per $100 of assessed valuation, has not increased since 1990.

During a work session yesterday, the commissioners continued to discuss capital budget requests and repeated their desire to build Oklahoma Road Middle School in 1995 so it could open the following year to alleviate crowding at Sykesville Middle School.

The school had been scheduled to be built in 1996 and opened in 1997.

The commissioners emphasized that the state must give approval for the school before it can be built.

"We're doing this [moving the construction schedule ahead]. This is our effort," Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said. Now the state must approve the project, she said.

The school, which would include a regional special education center, would cost about $12 million. The state usually pays hTC about half the cost of building a new school, Budget Director Steven D. Powell said.

Mr. Dell suggested that the county should consider buying modular classrooms -- prebuilt rooms that are assembled into a school at the site -- or leasing buildings for schools with the option to buy.

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said he has supported the idea of modular design since 1989. Mrs. Gouge said she supported the idea during her previous term as a commissioner.

Mr. Dell said the board should research the two options to try to save money on school construction.

The board also discussed whether Ralph Street in Westminster should be extended from Route 140 to Main Street. The county's share of the project would be $330,000.

"I don't see the need for that [extension], that it's critical at this time," Mr. Dell said.

Plans call for the county to pay for the extension from Route 140 to Greenwood Avenue and for Westminster to pay for extending the road from Greenwood Avenue to Main Street.

The extension would give motorists better access to the county courthouse, Board of Education offices and businesses in the area, budget analyst Gary Horst said.

Mr. Powell suggested that the $330,000 could be allocated for another road improvement project.

The commissioners also discussed a state-mandated addition at the Carroll County Humane Society to shelter cats. Budget officials have recommended spending $90,000 to build the 1,200-square-foot addition, in phases. The Humane Society requested $470,000 for the project.

State law requires cats to be quarantined when they arrive at the shelter until the staff can determine that the animals are free of disease. The county has not been in compliance with state law for at least five years, Mr. Powell said.

Yesterday, Mr. Dell suggested that the Humane Society try to do the project for $60,000.

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