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County Commissioners adopt budget

May 16, 2001

County Commissioners adopt budget



By SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners Tuesday adopted a $129.5 million general fund budget that gives the School Board $200,000 more than the amount included in a previous draft.

The budget approved Tuesday had been amended to distribute an additional $403,000 in response to funding requests. Of that amount, $50,000 went to the Community Action Council for its program to house people who live at the Hagerstown YMCA.

The adopted budget calls for paying for the funding additions by using $200,000 that was budgeted for road reclamation projects but not spent in the current budget year and by cutting $203,000 from next year's budget, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

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Road reclamation is the use of alternative techniques to fix road problems instead of using conventional patching and overlay methods.

The vote to adopt the budget for the 2002 fiscal year that begins July 1 was 4-1, with Commissioner William J. Wivell opposed.

Wivell said he opposed adoption because the budget did not include debt reduction. On Tuesday he gave the commissioners a list of proposed budget changes, which he said would have reduced the amount of county borrowing by $800,000. The changes were not approved, he said.

All of the County Commissioners worked hard to come up with the best possible budget, Snook said later.

"After six months I'm glad it is over," he added.

The commissioners had tentatively adopted a total budget, including the general fund, water and sewer and capital improvements budgets and other funds, of $184.9 million.

At a May 8 hearing on the budget, the commissioners heard requests for last-minute budget changes from several groups, including the Washington County Board of Education and the Community Action Council.

The School Board had asked for a $6.9 million increase in local funds over the county's current year allocation of $63 million. The state funds the remainder of the school system's budget.

The tentative budget called for giving the School Board about $5.3 million in new money, or $1.6 million less than what the School Board had sought.

The budget approved Tuesday gives the School Board $200,000 to pay for a one-time cost identified by the board. The commissioners specifically suggested putting the money into the reserves of the School Board's insurance program.

School Board President Herb Hardin said the additional $200,000 won't do the board much good.

"We will still be in the hole. We are going to have to cut personnel or salaries," he said.

"It does not make me happy," he said. "I don't know any board members who are going to be happy about this."

The budget also provides $38,960 more a year for the School-Family Liaison Program. The Department of Social Services asked the commissioners to increase the allocation to $65,100 for its program, which serves eight elementary schools.

The School-Family Liaison Program's goal is to help families and children develop solutions to school-related problems such as low attendance, tardiness, behavior and academic difficulties.

The program was initiated in 1994 as a collaborative effort between the Department of Social Services and the School Board.

The revised budget also includes $50,000 for the Community Action Council's housing program, which is aimed at keeping residents of the Hagerstown YMCA off the streets after the YMCA moves to new quarters and ends its residential program. Single rooms for men at the 149 N. Potomac St. YMCA will not be available after Aug. 1.

CAC had asked the county and the City of Hagerstown to each contribute $51,000.

If the city also gives $50,000 the program can work, said Glenda Hollman.

Three of the five City Council members have said there wasn't enough support on the council to fund the $51,000 request.

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