Rep. Delaney Hears How Proposed Federal Budget Cuts Could Affect Frederick County

He attended a roundtable discussion on Tuesday.


Frederick, Md (KM). Frederick County agencies made their case Tuesday to 6th District Congressman John Delaney (D) on the impact federal budget cuts could have on their operations.

During a roundtable at Winchester Hall with County Executive Jan Gardner, Budget Director Rick Harcum told Delaney that about $25-million in federal grants are part of the county’s budget. “And the vast majority of the type of federal funding that the county currently receives we believe would be at a relatively high level of risk if this federal budget was enacted as proposed,” he said.

One of the highest risks is the Department of Housing and Community Development which could lose $7.5-million. Director Milton Bailey said that could affect efforts to meet the demand for affordable housing in the county. “As it stands, we have roughly 2,000 people who are Frederick County residents on our waiting list as it is. And there are another 6,000 who look to Frederick County as an alternative plaice to live,” he said.

Angie Liddiard, the Economic Development Director of the Frederick City Housing Authority, echoed those comments. “Right now, Maryland is listed as the fifth most expensive state by a  two-bedroom housing wage in the country. For a single bedroom housing, someone has to work 106 hours a week at minimum wage to afford single bedroom housing in Maryland. We need more affordable housing. We need to maintain the affordable housing that we have,” she said.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Theresa Alban expressed concern  that the 21st Century School grant program is slated for the chopping block. She said the program provides before school and after school programs for elementary and middle school students who are having trouble in school, as well as a summer program. She says it’s been very successful. “So students who came out of middle school with serious disciplinary issues, attendance problems, walked into their r high schools and it just blew us away,” Dr. Alban said. “Not one suspension. Most of them are maintaining B and above in all of their classes.”

Health programs will also be affected, according to the Frederick County Health Department. One of them  is the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which   provides such services as cancer screening and pays for a pre-diabetes group. Health Administrator Tina Von Gauten said funding could also be lost for the Public Health Emergency program. “We use that money to prepare for public health emergencies. We’ve used it  for Zika, Ebola and the H1N1 {flu}  a few years ago. And if that’s cut, that’s going to limit our ability to prepare and plan for those emergencies,” she said.

TransIt Services of Frederick County could lose operating funds, according to director Nancy Norris. She said that could make it difficult for low income people to get around because that’s their only form of transportation. “They’re using it  because they have no other option. They have to use the bus. So the funding we receive is really critical. We get about $2.6-million federal dollars for operating,” she said.

Officials with the Division Fire and Rescue Services depend on the Assistance to Fire Fighter Grant program to pay for replacement portable radios, protective gear and apparatus. “To have to do that through the county budget means longer replacement cycles which means repair and maintenance costs go up so that trickle down on our side of the industry is more maintenance money to keep thing operational until we can get can get funding for for replacements,” said County Fire Chief Tom Owens.

County Council President Bud Otis urged the Congressman to fight for those who are less fortunate in his district. “We need an advocate., someone to stand up and let them know in Washington that they’re hurting real people, defenseless people, they can’t help themselves.,” he said.

Delaney said he would do all he could to fight for these programs. Most of the time a President’s budget undergoes a lot of changes before it’s finally approved  by Congress. Delaney said that could happen this time too. “We have to be very mindful and very watchful because things can be done by executive action and there will be budget funding resolutions which will have things in them that affect specific programs,” he said. “So while the entirety of this budget won’t become law, there is a chance that parts of it could either practically become law, or actually really become law.”


By Kevin McManus