Planners reduce budget requests Panel says concerns aren't addressed

November 05, 1996|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The Planning and Zoning Commission took another swipe yesterday at proposals from county department heads yesterday, cutting $4.98 million from noneducational 1998 capital budget requests.

Since Oct. 1, the commission has whittled $9.2 million from the department chiefs' spending requests. And members will begin their line-by-line review of the Board of Education's proposed capital plan Nov. 14.

Commission members spent the first part of their 8 1/2 -hour meeting debating whether to limit their review to "rubber stamping" every request that conforms to the county master plan.

In early October, and in past years, the commission had taken a more active role, leading some department heads to accuse commission members of attempting to "micro-manage" their agencies.

Eventually, commission members agreed with Thomas G. Hiltz of Woodbine. "I don't think the level of interest we've taken is inappropriate," Hiltz said. "What's particularly frustrating is that our concerns don't seem to be addressed."

A year ago, the planning panel told the County Commissioners that Carroll could save money if all requests for computers and computer equipment were funneled through an expert to ensure that new hardware and software was needed and that it would be compatible with existing equipment -- a suggestion the commissioners ignored.

To demonstrate their concern, commission members made the same request yesterday, giving it added emphasis by deleting every computer project from department budget proposals. The commission will send its final budget recommendation to the County Commissioners Nov. 19.

The deletion of computer equipment was the first of several "pay attention" messages sent yesterday to encourage department heads to change their budget policies. For instance, commission members cut $989,229 -- 10 percent -- from $9.8 million in road repair requests.

Although members agreed that road repair is essential, they said they resent the county's plan to sell 20-year bonds to pay for it.

The commission also cut virtually every utility building request from the recreation department's proposal. What they want, members said, is for the department to use standardized buildings that have a uniform cost per square foot.

The commission also moved a $3 million request for a South Carroll water tower for consideration in the fiscal 1999 capital plan.

The only requests unscathed at yesterday's budget winnowing were a $1.2 million request for bridge repairs, a $33.7 million request for a solid-waste facility and $4.2 million for land conversation projects, most of it for Carroll's farmland-preservation program.

Pub Date: 11/05/96

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