Warden asks for increase in jail budget Gym being converted to house prisoners, commissioners told

'Cannot wait until June'

State police seek additional money for Westminster troopers

March 19, 1997|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County Detention Center is so crowded that officials are converting a portion of the gym to house minimum-security inmates, the commissioners learned yesterday.

The county expects to begin construction of a $6 million addition this summer but that space will come too late to relieve crowding, Warden Mason Waters said.

"We have already reached a crisis," he said, noting the inmate population over the weekend swelled to 174 in a facility designed for 134 people. "We cannot wait until June."

Waters asked the commissioners yesterday to support a 10.6 percent increase -- or $373,490 -- in the Sheriff Department's budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Most of the increase would be used for the new addition, which will enable housing of up to 244 inmates, he said. The Sheriff's Department's proposed budget is $3.9 million.

State police also sought additional money yesterday as the commissioners continued their marathon week of morning and evening hearings on department budget requests for fiscal 1998.

State police are asking for an additional $284,830, or an 8.9 percent increase, in county funding, which is $3.4 million this fiscal year. The increase would be used to replace seven vehicles and pay for administrative support of the 93 troopers assigned to the Westminster barracks.

To house inmates in the detention center gym, Waters said officials plan to seal off half the gym and install showers, toilets and bunks. Minimum-security prisoners, such as those in work-release programs, will be housed there.

The remainder of the gym, and the prison courtyard, will continue to be used for recreational purposes, he said.

Carl Banaszewski, director of planning and research for the state police, told the commissioners that troopers are expected to gain a 10 percent pay raise from the General Assembly. Reductions in retirement and health benefits will decrease the overall raise to about 7.4 percent, he said.

Banaszewski and county officials disagreed over a requested 19.62 percent increase that state police are seeking to cover police training and services, such as radio and car repair.

The rate of increase is the same for all state police programs across Maryland. But county officials want the rate tailored to Carroll to reduce the county's costs.

"There are issues and there are differences" about the way the rate is determined, said Steven D. Powell, county budget director. He said that while he understood the state police position, he felt the issue warranted further discussion.

"We're not in any position to change these numbers for fiscal 1998," Banaszewski told Powell. "If we do change, we have to deal with when."

Banaszewski said he didn't know whether it was legally possible to tailor the rate for Carroll, but even if it were, the request could become "a double-edged sword."

State police provide Carroll with some services the county doesn't pay for now -- a situation that could change if the county presses its argument, he said.

After testifying on the budget request, Banaszewski warned the commissioners of legislation before the General Assembly that would require counties to notify state police five years before discontinuing the Resident Trooper Program.

The bill would be good for state police but may not be good for the county, Banaszewski said. Only six months' notice is required now if a county chooses to end its participation and provide its own police protection.

Pub Date: 3/19/97

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