County to get $2 million for capital projects, $77.5 million 'state aid' under plan

January 19, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposed budget for the next fiscal year included no surprises -- and no gifts -- for Carroll County.

In documents released yesterday at the State House, the governor proposed spending $2.1 million on capital projects in Carroll and about $77.5 million for public schools, Carroll Community College, public libraries and the health department in fiscal 1995.

Fiscal 1995 will begin July 1.

The $77.5 million contribution to Carroll, known as "state aid to local government," is a 5.7 percent increase over last year. It would come from the proposed $13.5 billion operating budget.

The increase in state aid is about the same percentage Carroll received last year, Carroll Budget Director Steven D. Powell said yesterday. He expects an increase of about 5 percent in state aid for next year.

Most of the $77.5 million in school money -- $50 million to $55 million of it -- will be spent on Carroll public schools, Mr. Powell said. Budget books scheduled to be released today will detail how the remaining money will be divided, he said.

Del. Richard N. Dixon, a Carroll Democrat, said the proposed capital spending plan for Carroll could change during the General Assembly session, which will end in April. Decisions about capital spending are not usually made until the end of the session, said Mr. Dixon, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

He characterized the list released yesterday as preliminary.

The governor's proposed $710 million capital budget shows the following breakdown for Carroll:

* Taneytown Elementary School additions and renovations -- $1.6 million.

Carroll school and county officials will appeal to the state Board of Public Works today for $1.2 million more for the project. The money committed by the state would enable the school to expand its capacity to 400 students, but county officials believe there is a need to raise its capacity to 600 students.

* Westminster Waste Water Treatment Plant -- $50,000.

* Westminster storm water management -- $38,844.

* Springfield Hospital Center -- $199,000 for a six-bed tuberculosis isolation unit and $177,000 to renovate the central kitchen.

Mr. Dixon said he hopes the state also will commit money to enlarge or build a new Maryland State Police barracks in Westminster. He said he was not sure how much money would be needed for the project or in what year construction would begin.

At a State House news conference yesterday, Charles L. Benton Jr., secretary of budget and fiscal planning, said the fiscal 1995 budget is "Maryland's first post-recession budget." The budget is based on revenue projections of slow but steady growth in the next 18 months, Mr. Benton said.

Mr. Schaefer proposed increasing spending by 6 percent over last year, assuming that the legislature approves his proposed 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax.

If the tax is approved and generates the expected $70 million, Carroll would receive $891,260. Of that, $246,111 would be spent on education programs.

The rest would be given to the county and towns to pay for state-mandated programs.

The governor's office said last week that the $645,149 would be divided as follows:

* Carroll County -- $577,642.

* Westminster -- $34,147.

* Taneytown -- $9,661.

* Manchester -- $7,347.

* Hampstead -- $6,761.

* Sykesville -- $6,022

* Mount Airy -- $3,569.

All members of the Carroll legislative delegation except Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, a Carroll/Baltimore County Democrat, said last week that they oppose the cigarette tax increase.

Mr. Dixon said the programs that

would benefit from the increase are worthy, but that they could be financed without raising taxes.

Sen. Charles H. Smelser, a Carroll and Frederick Democrat, said yesterday an overall 6 percent spending increase is too high.

A Joint Spending Affordability Committee said the state could afford only a 5 percent spending increase.

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