Carroll Digest

CARROLL COUNTY DIGEST

November 26, 2003

Officials propose 25-cent increase in 911 service fee

Carroll County's Office of Public Safety is seeking a 25-cent increase in the fee that telephone customers pay for 911 service, a change that would bring the charge to 75 cents per month.

Under a proposal to be presented to the county commissioners next month, the increase would help pay for rising costs associated with operating the county's 911 center, including upgrading and maintaining the system, said Howard "Buddy" Redman, administrator of the county's public safety office.

The 50-cent fee included in every phone bill in the county, including cellular phones, generates about $690,000 a year. The 25-cent increase would bring in another $345,000, Redman said.

A state law passed this year allows counties to increase its 911 fees from 50 cents to 75 cents per phone bill, Redman said.

The 911 center's budget last year was about $1.1 million, Redman said. The 911 fee is only used for expenses related to handling emergency calls, such as staffing and maintaining the phone system.

County signs option on site for Finksburg library

The county commissioners signed an option yesterday to purchase a 10.7-acre property near Sandymount Park to build a Finksburg library branch and library system headquarters.

The county is expected to pay $412,500 for the property, said Doug Myers, director of the county's Department of Public Works.

The county will have 90 days to complete its land inspection and secure sites for water, well and septic, and storm-management systems on the property. Construction of the 24,500- square-foot branch and headquarters buildings could start as early as next summer, said Ralph Green, director of the county's Department of General Services.

Retirement plan OK'd for Westminster workers

The Westminster Common Council has approved a retirement plan for municipal workers that would include a city contribution of 2 percent of the employees' salary in the first year.

The plan covers 115 city employees who are not eligible for the Police Department's retirement plan, the Law Enforcement Officers Pension System. Those 115 employees will have an opportunity to participate in a 401(a) program, the government version of a 401(k) retirement plan. The cost to the city for the matching money is estimated at $80,622 for the first year.

For each fiscal year after this year, the Common Council will set the city's rate of contribution to the retirement plan. The council approved the program unanimously at its meeting Monday.

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