Community college to request more aid

January 23, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer Staff Writer Anne Haddad contributed to this story.

State aid to Carroll County for the next fiscal year was distributed fairly -- except when it came to Carroll Community College, local officials say.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer proposed giving the county 5.7 percent more state money than last year, but he did not recommend giving the community college almost $900,000 it had requested to hire more full-time faculty and add new programs.

"I think the state has worked hard to distribute the money" equitably among counties, Carroll County Budget Director Steven D. Powell said.

But, he said last week, he will ask state budget officials to consider giving the college more money. The college gained its independence from Catonsville Community College in July.

College President Joseph F. Shields said Friday, "We're very disappointed we didn't get it, but it's not over yet. It will go through the legislature."

Community college leaders across the state hope to persuade legislators to pass a supplemental budget to make the distribution of money among colleges more equal, he said.

Governor Schaefer proposed giving Carroll Community College $2.6 million in fiscal 1995, an $800,000 increase over the current fiscal year. The increase is intended to help meet the college's rising enrollment, Dr. Shields said.

But the college should receive more because the state should be using a higher per-pupil rate, officials said.

State aid is based on a per-pupil formula. The state pays Carroll $1,053 per student, but the average state contribution for a school of Carroll's size is $1,786 per student.

Based on the formula, Carroll should receive an additional $889,000 in fiscal 1995, Dr. Shields said.

Fiscal 1995 begins July 1, 1994.

In his budget released last week, Mr. Schaefer proposed increasing aid to Carroll by $4.2 million, or 5.73 percent, for a total of $77.5 million.

Most of the increased spending will be possible because state revenues are expected to grow by about 5 percent. But unless the General Assembly passes a 25-cents-per-pack cigarette tax proposed by the governor, some of those increases won't be possible.

All members of the Carroll delegation, except Del. Lawrence A. LaMotte, D-District 5B, said they would oppose the tax increase.

If the tax passes and raises an estimated $70 million, Carroll would receive $900,000, state budget officials said. Of that amount, $645,149 would be used to help the county and towns pay for state-mandated programs, and $246,111 would go to public schools.

Other county areas affected by state aid include:

* Public schools

The governor proposed increasing state aid to Carroll public schools by $2.6 million, to $63.8 million. The money is welcome but probably will not pay for all improvements needed in local schools, Mr. Powell said.

The Board of Education has not finalized its budget for fiscal 1995 yet, but Mr. Powell said he expects its request will be higher than the 4 percent increase in state aid. The schools will ask the county for more money, he said.

Carroll revenue growth is expected to be 5 percent to 6 percent for fiscal 1995, he said.

School Budget Officer Carl H. Welsh said Friday that the education budget is not finished.

* Libraries

The governor proposed decreasing aid to Carroll libraries by about $75,000, or 8 percent, for a total of $839,363.

The decrease is based on a state aid formula in which counties receive less state aid as their tax base grows, Carroll Library Director Linda Mielke said.

She said she supports a House bill that would increase the state per-capita formula for libraries. If the bill passes, Carroll would receive almost double what it does now in state aid, she said.

Del. Sheila Ellis Hixson, a Montgomery County Democrat and chairwoman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is sponsoring the bill.

Ms. Mielke said she would write Carroll delegates to ask for their support.

The Carroll library needs new books, library officials said. Spending on books has been cut for several years because of the recession and earlier state cuts.

* Health

The governor proposed giving Carroll $1 million for health services such as family planning, AIDS education and cancer control. The amount is 4 percent -- or about $36,500 -- more than the current year.

Carroll Deputy Health Officer Larry Leitch said Friday that the county will need much more than that if the General Assembly approves 3 percent raises for all state employees.

About 200 local health workers are considered state employees and would be entitled to the raise, he said.

But state officials have told county officials that they would have to pay for the raises, he said.

Carroll could need as much as $200,000 for the raises, plus increases in benefits, Mr. Leitch said.

The health department will ask the county to pay for the raises, but if the commissioners decide not to, the money would have to be taken from health programs, he said.

The state financial situation will be better in fiscal 1995, but state officials are being careful, Mr. Leitch said.

"They're not going on a spending spree," he said.

* Police, fire and public safety

Mr. Schaefer proposed spending about $50,000 more, or a total of $1.3 million.

Of that amount, $1.2 million would be used for police aid, and $117,000 for fire and rescue aid. The aid is shared with the towns, Mr. Powell said.

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