Council rejects petition extension, dooming counseling program

January 04, 1995|By Shirley Leung LTC | Shirley Leung LTC,Sun Staff Writer

An article in yesterday's Anne Arundel edition of The Sun about the Anne Arundel County Council vote on the Crofton counseling program was incorrect. The vote was 3-4, with Thomas W. Redmond Sr. also voting against the bill, which was defeated.

The Sun regrets the errors.

The County Council narrowly defeated last night a bill that would have extended the period for gathering signatures on petitions in support of the Crofton counseling program, effectively ending the 22-year-old program at the end of this month.

Because the bill was an emergency ordinance that would take effect immediately, it needed five votes to pass.

The vote last night was 4-3, with council members Bert L. Rice, William C. Mulford II and Diane R. Evans voting against the bill.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"It's finished," said Edwin F. Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Association on the future of the program, which provides a community counselor who helped residents deal with alcohol and drug abuse, marriage problems, bereavement, job searches and children's issues.

In recent years, opponents of the program, which serves about 1,500 families, have questioned whether it is an appropriate use of tax dollars.

Mr. Dosek testified last night that more time was needed to gather signatures.

A majority of homeowners had to sign a petition supporting the program by early November or the money to run the program would dry up by the end of this month.

But the petition drive did not gone well.

Nearly two-thirds of those who have returned petition forms to Crofton's town hall have said they support the program, but that accounts for only 32 percent of Crofton homeowners, and county law requires that 51 percent of the homeowners ratify the program for it to continue.

As of Dec. 28, 1,625 forms had been returned, with 1,025 supporting the continuation of the counseling program.

Mr. Dosek said 325 more signatures are needed to meet the 51 percent requirement.

The petition drive started this year after the county attorney questioned whether the charter of the Crofton special tax district allowed tax money to be spent for a counselor program.

At the time, Robert R. Neall, who as county executive oversaw the tax district's budget, said he would cut the program's funding Jan. 31 unless Crofton's charter was amended to give it that authority.

Anticipating an uncertain future for the counseling program, the civic association placed Linda R. Smith, the counselor, on leave Dec. 30.

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