Cumberland Times-News

March 21, 2013

County departments 'holding the line'

Jeffrey Alderton
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Allegany County’s annual budget hearings kicked off Thursday with various departments and agencies submitting their initial requests — and without asking for major increases in funding over last year’s budget approved by the Allegany County Board of Commissioners.

The budget process includes formal presentations, budget workshops, preliminary budget hearings and budget adoption on June 6.

Budget requests were submitted Thursday to the county commissioners by Allegany County Sheriff’s Office and its detention center, the Allegany County Health Department, Allegany County Fire and Rescue Board, Potomac Highlands Airport Authority, the Upper Potomac River Commission, Human Resources Development Commission and the Allegany County State’s Attorney Office.

All of the budget requests were basically in line with last year’s budget.

“We appreciate you holding the line with us,” said Commission President Michael McKay.

McKay also assured that departments holding the line and working with the commissioners doing tight budget times would be remembered when economic conditions improve.

Dick DeVore, the county’s director of emergency services, said his agency was “committed to stand with you in these difficult times” concerning its budget request. “We only ask that you give us consideration when the pendulum swings the other way.”

DeVore’s request marked the fourth consecutive year that the fire and rescue board did not request a budget increase.

The HRDC budget request marked the seventh year in a row that the agency has not asked for a budget increase.

Courtney Thomas, HRDC executive director, said, “Our agency has been impacted as much as any with federal and state budget cuts. We are very anxious with sequestration and the debit ceiling and what effect it will have on our programs.”

Service requests are on the increase for HRDC that serves one out of three county residents through its various programs.

For example, meals provided by HRDC through its senior citizen centers and otherwise totaled more than 119,000 in 2012.

Last year, the agency served more than 144,000 meals, marking an 18 percent increase, due in part to the end of the Meals on Wheels program.

Thomas said the agency is continuing to try to improve its overall efficiency. “We would not be able to stay the course without the local funds that the county provides,” she said.

County Administrator David Eberly said, “We need to make sure we are doing everything we can for your agency since you have held the line for seven years in a row.”

State’s Attorney Michael  Twigg submitted his budget requests with no major increases requested.

Twigg did seek funds that would allow him to improve compensation for security personnel at circuit court, and for a few long-term employees in his office through reclassification of their positions.

The county also received budget requests that were submitted in advance from the Allegany County Health Department and the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority. Both budget requests were submitted without requests for any additional funds.

Sheriff Craig Robertson also held the line with his budget requests for the sheriff’s office as well as the detention center, under the oversight of Captain Lee Cutter, detention center administrator.

Commissioners Creade V. Brodie Jr. and Bill Valentine were also present to receive the budget requests along with Director of Finance Jason M. Bennett.

All of the officials expressed gratitude of the department’s not asking for budget increases.

Budget requests hearings are scheduled to be submitted to the county next Thursday at 1 p.m., by the Allegany College of Maryland, the Allegany County Board of Education and the Allegany County Library System.

Allegany County’s historical budget information is available at www.gov.allconet.org. From the homepage select departments, select finance, select budget archive.

Fiscal years 2000 through 2013 are available.

Jeffrey Alderton may be contacted at jlalderton@times-news.com.