$1.8 million economic budget sought Funding for tourism, job training affected

March 28, 1997|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

When John T. Lyburn Jr., Carroll's economic development director, thanked the County Commissioners this week for making his department the county's No. 1 priority, he had good reason.

Lyburn's proposed $1.8 million budget for next fiscal year has the highest percentage increase of any county department -- well above the 3 percent limit the commissioners imposed on departments early in the budget process.

The commissioners have been holding day-and-night budget meetings on departmental spending requests for next fiscal year since March 17.

A 12.82 percent increase in spending would add $212,955 to the four areas Lyburn oversees: economic development, tourism, job training and development, and management of Carroll County regional airport in Westminster.

The proposed spending plan includes a $100,000 increase for the economic development's $1 million trust fund. That fund, which was created to help achieve the department's goal of increasing Carroll's commercial and industrial tax base to 17 percent, grew from $156,000 in fiscal 1996 to $1 million in the current spending plan.

The fund is used to lure companies to Carroll with loans and incentives, and to provide the same kinds of loans and incentives to Carroll companies looking to expand within the county.

Although the county's commercial and industrial tax base is still "around 12 percent," the county closed deals on more than 1 million square feet of commercial space in the past two months and is courting 100 prospective clients -- the most in his nearly three-year tenure as director, Lyburn said.

The department also has 21 events scheduled for this year to help promote the county as a business address, he said.

In addition, Lyburn will hire a marketing director July 1, increasing the administrative portion of his budget by $39,655, or 23 percent, he said.

The new marketing director -- Cynthia M. Parr -- will be on temporary duty at Lyburn's department for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Parr was the commissioners' media adviser.

Lyburn also proposes adding a staff member in the tourism department to set up bus tours, maintain a volunteer bank for events and help staff the tourism booth at the Westminster summer training camp of the Ravens, Baltimore's National Football League team.

The tourism office spent $17,410 on overtime maintaining a booth at the Ravens' camp last summer, he said.

"We want our own person," Lyburn told the commissioners.

Apart from the $100,000 increase in the trust fund, the largest increase sought by Lyburn was $40,920 for the airport portion of the budget -- a 60 percent increase over current spending.

The airport "is extremely important for economic development," Lyburn told the commissioners. Construction of a storage facility that will contain aviation gas and jet fuel would bring more commercial aircraft to the airport and increase business there, he predicted.

The economic development department's training arm requested the smallest increase -- 2.32 percent, or $3,520 more than the $151,580 it receives now.

The training division conducted 528 courses and training workshops for 345 customers this year, Lyburn said, and will have a changed focus in the coming one.

The emphasis will be to train the work force to meet employers' needs, he said.

Pub Date: 3/28/97

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