Neall to have final say over Crofton's budget

March 31, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

The future of Crofton's 1994-1995 budget and the controversial community counselor position is in the hands of County Executive Robert R. Neall.

In an opinion issued yesterday, County Attorney Judson P. Garrett said Mr. Neall may approve the $586,000 Crofton budget, including the counselor program. He may reduce the program appropriation or eliminate it.

Or, he may approve the budget with conditions.

The budget will take effect July 1.

Crofton is a special tax district, administered by the Crofton Civic Association. The County Council granted the civic association the authority to collect taxes for public purposes.

Some association officials and residents have objected to allocating tax money for free counseling services.

Mr. Garrett told County Council woman Virginia P. Clagett in January that Crofton might be incorrectly using a catch-all budget line to pay for the community counselor program instead of making it a separate category.

In yesterday's opinion, Mr. Garrett said he is still concerned that authorizing programs through a catch-all budget category may be incorrect. However, he noted that the counselor has been paid this way for 22 years.

He said Mr. Neall may legally approve the current funding method and let the courts resolve the question if someone files suit.

Mr. Neall also could approve the budget on the condition that Crofton seek county legislation spelling out the authority to spend tax money on a counselor.

Unless the County Council changes the code governing all special tax districts, Mr. Garrett said a majority of the residents of the Crofton tax district would have to petition the County Council to amend their tax district's authority.

Crofton Civic Association President Edwin F. Dosek said yesterday he had not seen Mr. Garrett's opinion and could not comment on it.

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