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County Budget Committee tables employee bonuses

The possibility of recommending bonuses for full-time Carroll County employees was bounced around during the Feb. 25 meeting of the Carroll County Budget Committee, but, after some discussion, committee members decided to hold off until more budget information is available.

Chairman Darrell Ridgely said that County Mayor Joseph Butler, who was not present at the meeting, had suggested possible one-time bonuses of $1,000 or $500, but, while they ultimately tabled the matter until the next meeting, committee members generally agreed that $500 bonuses are the more likely option.

Chairman Darrell Ridgely said that they do have some CARES Act funding that hasn’t been spoken for yet, though member Willie Huffman said he wasn’t too sure if they would be allowed to use that money for bonuses.

Ridgely pointed out that a federal minimum wage increase to $15 may be coming, and as some part-time office and many Sheriff’s Department employees are currently making either $12 or $13 per hour, that may become a budgeting issue in the future.

 “We can’t just throw money because we’ve got it at the moment,” said member Manuel Crossno, who added that unforeseen expenses can pop up at any time. “So many things can go wrong.”

Ridgely recommended that they table the matter of bonuses until they can get some clearer projections on the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year budget, and Crossno made that into the form of a motion, which passed unanimously.

“I would like to know more about where we stand,” said Ridgely.

• • •

In other business:

•The committee approved several line-item budget amendments totaling $35,100 in the Highway Department and $221,425.90 for multiple other departments under the General Fund.

•The committee voted to recommend donations of $2,000 each to the county’s 12 rural fire department to offset funding losses due to usual fundraising activities being cancelled because of the pandemic. Ridgely said this money would come from CARES Act funding.

•Committee members denied a request from the Carroll County School District asking that they give the school district an approximate figure on how much money would be available before the school district prepares its proposed 2021-22 budget. The committee voted unanimously that the school district should prepare and submit its budget in the usual way.

•The committee voted to table the matter of Highway Department needing to replace two older trucks used by road commissioners until more budget information is available.

•The committee generally agreed that they need to start budget hearings for the various departments some time in April.

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