Every year, Carroll County makes the same appeal to Frederick County, asking it to share the costs of public facilities and services in Mount Airy, a town situated in both counties.
Frederick should pay part of the cost of running a library, a senior center and a volunteer fire company in the town of more than 7,500 residents, Carroll officials said.
"This is a perennial issue," said Steven D. Powell, the Carroll commissioners' chief of staff. "Mount Airy is unique, with folks living in two counties sharing facilities. We will continue to support the operating costs, but we would like some consideration as we move forward. We would like to get on your budget schedule."
In their annual meeting with their Frederick County counterparts Friday in Mount Airy, the Carroll County commissioners inched closer to a resolution.
"The county is receptive to sharing costs of services to citizens," said Michael L. Cady, vice president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners.
Frederick Commissioner Bruce L. Reeder said, "If we can have somebody sitting on the boards of these facilities and representing Frederick County, I have no problem with funding."
Carroll County opened the $4.5 million library and senior center, which share a building on Ridge Avenue, in 1993. Frederick County contributed $200,000 to the construction costs then and nothing since.
Although 44 percent of the patrons are Frederick County residents, Carroll pays the entire $870,000 in annual operating costs for the library, which has a yearly circulation of nearly 650,000 items.
Frederick Commissioner Jan H. Gardner said Carroll's request comes at the end of a budget cycle, making it difficult "to wrap into our budget."
The Mount Airy branch could get some relief if Frederick proceeds with a proposal to build a library in the New Market area, she said. In the meantime, Gardner said, she will discuss sharing costs with Frederick's library board.
About 30 percent of the patrons of the Mount Airy Senior Center are Frederick County residents. Carroll budgets $153,000 annually to run the center, with no contribution from Frederick County.
About 35 percent of the fire calls to the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company are to emergencies in Frederick County. Frederick paid $24,000 to the fire company for medical physicals for personnel for fiscal 2005, but that fell short of the total cost, and Carroll County picked up the difference of a few thousand dollars.
"We support the firefighters regardless of county and will reimburse Carroll County for the cost of the physicals," Cady said.
High school plans
Town officials steered the discussion to a possible Mount Airy High School on the Frederick side of the municipality, an issue they have proposed to the Frederick County Board of Education.
"We have a proposed site with public utilities and infrastructure," said Councilwoman Wendi W. Peters. "The site is consistent with our master plan and with Smart Growth policies. We see this as a win for the town and the county."
Students are divided between Linganore and South Carroll high schools, depending on where they live in town. Main Street is divided evenly between the two counties.
"Inevitably, given our split nature, research shows our Frederick County side can support a high school," said John P. Medve, Town Council president.
A new high school for about 1,200 students costs up to $50 million, officials said.
"Of course, if Carroll County wants to locate a high school here, too ... " Peters said.
Before she could finish her thought, Carroll Commissioner Dean L. Minnich said, "We would like the same deal on the high school that you guys get on the library and senior center."