Citizen service funding defended Commissioners told cuts in aid hurt 'community in crisis'

March 26, 1998|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The County Commissioners heard chilling stories and statistics last night from people who want no reduction in spending for Carroll's citizen service programs.

The $4.4 million request seemed modest in comparison to the need explained last night. The 17 agencies covered in the citizen services portion of county budget hearings are seeking 2.4 percent of a proposed $181 million operating budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Agency directors told the commissioners that:

Domestic violence cases now number 500 and have increased 25 percent in the past two years.

Carroll is second only to Baltimore City in the number of adolescent heroin users.

The number of suicide interventions by counselors from the Youth Services Bureau was greater in the first six months of this year than the 28 interventions in the preceding year.

An average of 35 to 40 people a month report incidents of domestic sexual abuse and the number of clients being treated by the county's family and children's services unit has a 15 percent increase in clients.

"When we do our job right, we see an increase in cases" of people needing help, said Sandra Rappeport, supervisor of the county's domestic violence program. "Unfortunately, our numbers are going up."

Rappeport told the commissioners of two incidents her agency dealt with earlier yesterday. The first involved treatment of a preschool child who watched her mother "beaten repeatedly to the point of being clinically dead" before she was revived, Rappeport said.

The second involved a woman who was terrorized by a companion who told her about various tortures that could happen to her by "accident," Rappeport said.

Rappeport is seeking $650 more than was recommended to give three counselors a slight raise.

"We care for the people who are most victimized," she told the commissioners. Jolene G. Sullivan, director of the county Department of Citizen Services, told the commissioners, "We are very fortunate in Carroll to have human service agencies that give their all."

That energy is essential because "the community is in crisis," said Olivia Myers, executive director of Junction Inc., a Westminster-based drug abuse treatment and prevention center.

"I've been here 25 years, but I've never seen anything like this," said Myers, referring to heroin use among teens.

"Young kids are puttting themselves in incredible amounts of danger. They could die not only from overdose but from the situations" in which they put themselves when buying heroin, she said.

"We need to do something quickly," said Myers, who is seeking $42,000 above the recommended budget to pay for a family therapist. Social Services director George Giese echoed that sentiment when urging the commissioners to spend generously on every citizen service agency.

"These are children's lives at stake," he said. "If we can afford a new office building, we ought to be able to afford these programs." Giese was referring to a recent multimillion dollar addition to the county offices in Westminster.

Pub Date: 3/26/98

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