Groups pursue county funding

Organizations appeal to council for support of smaller efforts

May 05, 2000|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Rather than the usual requests for multimillion-dollar education or crime-fighting programs, the Howard County Council was asked last night to fund smaller but no less vital programs.

The budget hearing at Ellicott City's George Howard building dealt with that portion -- roughly half -- of County Executive James N. Robey's proposed $754.4 million budget that funds small-ticket items.

Dorothy Moore, director of the county's Community Action anti-poverty agency, asked the council to support the $300,000 that Robey proposes to spend for programs such as the county food bank. Moore also asked for a new home in Columbia for Head Start, the preschool education program.

"Thank you for your sensitivity and your response to the needs of the poor," Moore told the council.

Paul Hogel, vice president of development for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, asked for continued support of arts grants from the council, which provided $25,000 this fiscal year. He said Howard County is the third-largest source of BSO patrons after Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

Paul Higon, a teacher at Dunloggin Middle School in Ellicott City, wanted the county to allocate $1,000 for an artist to continue helping his students in an extracurricular living history program.

Ann Selnick asked for two more staff members at the county animal shelter.

Advocates for the retarded, the mentally ill and drug addicts also asked the council to support their programs.

In his second spending plan, Robey said, he's trying to restore some items that were cut during the recession of the early 1990s.

So the former county police chief included money to hire 16 police officers, four civilian workers -- two for the animal shelter -- 15 firefighters and a sprinkling of other new employees.

The number of officers that Robey proposes to hire was far below that requested by Police Chief Wayne Livesay. In the past two years, Livesay has asked for 73 police officers but has received permission to hire only 22.

The other new workers in Robey's budget would perform tasks ranging from inspections of sediment control and storm water runoff to compliance with sign laws. A new county planner would work on ways to revitalize older residential areas, starting with the U.S. 1 corridor. Two other hires would bolster the staff of the county's much-criticized animal control facility on Davis Road, enabling it to stay open Saturdays.

Selnick said the shelter needs the help badly. She asked the council to press for quick action to hire more staff. "I speak on behalf of homeless animals who have no voice," she said.

Robey also included more money for things as diverse as promoting tourism to $25,000 for the Howard County Center of African American Culture.

Roger Estep, who is on the center's board, said the center "will teach respect for those legendary deeds" -- like the establishment of Howard's first school for free blacks in 1848.

The council will hold a public hearing on the education department budget at 9 a.m. tomorrow in council's chambers in Ellicott City.

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