Carroll Co. officials hear pleas to boost funding in fiscal '05

Agencies seeking some of $700,000 to be doled out


March 16, 2004|By Hanah Cho and Mary Gail Hare | Hanah Cho and Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll County agencies pleaded yesterday with the commissioners for tens of thousands of dollars in extra money for the fiscal 2005 budget.

The hearing was the first of three where commissioners listen to requests from county agencies for more money. Two more sessions are scheduled for next week.

Like other counties across Maryland, Carroll faces a tight budget year. In particular, the county commissioners' proposal to generate additional revenue by imposing a tax on real estate transactions was rejected by the state delegation. The three county officials had said a transfer tax would pay for an increasing demand on government services in the coming years.

The recommended operating budget for the fiscal year that begins in July is $259.5 million, a 6 percent increase from this year's budget.

Most of the $14.8 million increase would go to continue funding for round-the-clock ambulance services, the county school system and the Sheriff's Office. Only $700,000 remained to be distributed among several dozen county departments and services, including libraries, public safety and social services.

Many of the county's programs saw little or no increase in their budgets, said Ted Zaleski, the county budget director.

Among them were three agencies that provide social services for mentally and developmentally disabled people. The agencies came before the commissioners yesterday with modest requests of $5,000 each to pay for rising worker compensation and insurance costs.

CHANGE Inc., Target Community and Education Services Inc. and the Arc of Carroll County are expected to receive $218,855 each for the coming fiscal year.

Linda Mielke, Carroll's library director, brought more than pleas. The library system's recommended 2005 budget increased by 3 percent to $5.5 million, including a salary increase for workers and nearly $7,000 to pay for a security guard at the Westminster branch. But the extra money does not cover escalating expenses for electricity, telephones and bank fees and costs related to filtering the Internet, Mielke said.

Mielke told the commissioners that she also would like to see an additional $38,800 to buy books.

From the Carroll County Circuit Court to the Human Services Programs, officials pointed to a growing demand for their services.

"We are facing serious issues, not just because of financial need but also because of the demands of people coming to us," said Stephen Mood, executive director of Human Services Programs.

That organization asked the commissioners for full-time coverage at the county homeless shelter, a child care worker at the Family Center and continued funding for a triage specialist to deal with emergency assistance.

Sun staff writer Athima Chansanchai contributed to this article.

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