a great place to live, a great place to work, a great place to play
State of the County
A message from the
Board of County Commissioners
President Julia W. Gouge
Vice President Dean L. Minnich
Secretary Michael D. Zimmer
Growth, water and education top the list of issues facing the 58th
Carroll County Board of Commissioners as we embark on our
four-year journey together.
The Board of County Commissioners took office on December
4, 2006. As Carroll’s governing executive and legislative body,
we define local policies and direct the county’s budget. These policies
affect the day-to-day life of all of us who live or work in Carroll
In 2007, the Board of Carroll County Commissioners
will be asked to adopt major revisions to the county’s
comprehensive plan, known as “Pathways to
Carroll’s Future Landscape.” The plan contains
guidelines for where and how Carroll will grow. There
are more than 30,000 lots countywide that could see
residential development. Pathways will enable the
county to implement policies and create tools so
growth can be directed to those areas that can best absorb the impact
without eliminating property owners’ rights.
For more than a year, residents, businesspeople and other stakeholders
discussed concepts they felt were critical to the plan. Special activities
ensured that students’ ideas were heard as well, since they will be leading
Carroll in the years to come. Across the county, people listened to experts,
studied innovative topics, and educated themselves on opportunities
available to the county. In both small community meetings and large
group activities, they identified special places, gave examples of their own
towns’ distinguishing architecture, and even plotted where they want to
focus future growth. With those preferences in mind, county planners
now are drafting revisions to the comprehensive plan.
One of the key elements affecting the comprehensive plan will be water.
Many towns within Carroll’s borders are finding that accelerated growth
and evolving state regulations have challenged their abilities to ensure
adequate water supplies. The major county-owned water system is
sufficient. But we know that each jurisdiction must
have enough water for its commercial and industrial
land in order for economic development to continue.
Because a collaborative approach is essential, Carroll’s
Department of Planning will bring town officials
together for a water summit in February.
Even before the summit gets under way, our
employees have been working with state and local
agencies to identify solutions to both immediate and
long-term concerns. We will work with the federal Environmental
Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment to
establish reservoirs at Gillis Falls in the southwest and Union Mills in the
north-central parts of the county.
As Carroll’s population grows, so too
grows the need for space – space on our
roads, in our landfill, and in our schools.
Five new schools have opened in the
county since 2000 and a sixth is under
construction. As planners expect 2,700
more students by 2020, and an additional 5,000 in the following decade,
we will need more facilities. Price tags for new scholls range from $24
million for an elementary school to nearly $78 million for a high school.
As the Board of County Commissioners, we provide the primary funding
for these construction projects. Agreement from the Board of Education
and approval by the state, however, are keys to building new schools.
In addition to new construction, existing schools must be maintained. And
we must make room for twice as many kindergartners as before, as the
state now requires all-day classes. This year’s budget includes nearly $11
million for projects directly related to all-day kindergarten. Other
renovations are needed, too. Replacing the original 37-year-old heating
and air-conditioning system at Westminster High School, for example, is
expected to cost $26.5 million. Modernizing South Carroll High School
could mean another $95 million in coming years, not counting the $24
million price tag for a fine arts addition.
Carroll County Public Schools currently rank No. 2 in the state for test
scores while ranking 19th out of 24 in per-pupil spending. These numbers
reflect Carroll County’s fiscal efficiency and our continuing commitment
to providing a top-notch education to our students.
What does Carroll County
Government do for you?
Major policy decisions make the most headlines, but your county
government does much more than what you see in the media. Potholes
must be filled, drains kept clear, garbage buried or recycled. Building
plans must be checked to ensure they are safe. Children need places to
play. Police must be available for both emergencies and other concerns.
Some residents need help finding a job or a place to live. Members of the
public must be kept informed of projects and policies that affect them.
Paying for all of these things requires strong, sound fiscal management.
To help understand what Carroll County Government has done recently,
we offer this department-by-department look at 2006, followed by an
economic outlook for 2007.
Providing an adequate supply of public water is becoming the biggest
single problem facing local governments in Maryland today. The Freedom
Water Treatment Plant expansion project is under way in an effort to assure
the residents of south Carroll an abundant supply of water for the
Cell No. 3 at the Northern Landfill is under construction. As a board, we
are wrestling with many questions about trash, including collection and
disposal. We are looking at alternatives to landfills. Among those
alternatives are systems that convert waste to electric energy. Residue
from the burning operation is only 10 percent of the volume of the waste
we would otherwise bury.
We are also looking very closely at a
waste collection program. In every
survey we take, the subject of collection
in the unincorporated parts of the
County is a topic. In 2005, for example,
62 percent of those who live outside
towns said they want the county to pick
up trash, and 77 percent want bulk trash
Last April after the snow had melted, a crew
took their trucks to William Winchester
Elementary School to give the children a
- 3- firsthand look at the large equipment they use.
Our Bureau of Roads stands ready to clear snow, should we get any this
year. In the meantime, they continue to maintain our 1,000 miles of roads.
The Bureau of Engineering is the Department of Public Works’ secret
weapon. Much of our capital planning, engineering and surveying is done
through them, saving taxpayers the expense of consultant fees and time.
Saving all taxpayers money is always a
priority. That’s why the county’s strong
2006 credit rating is important. By
following sound financial management
policies, Carroll received a lower interest
rate on the bonds we issued last fall. All
three independent national bond rating agencies kept the county’s high
ratings for fiscal health and outlook.
For the 21st year in a row, we received the Certificate of Achievement for
Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers
Association. This is the highest recognition that can be awarded for
The Board adopted a Carroll County Senior Tax Credit last spring, ensuring
our senior citizens got a break on their property tax bills even before the
State expanded its program.
One of the keys to strong fiscal management is the desire to save money
through creative initiatives. By joining with other regional governments,
through the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, Carroll is now able to buy
electricity directly from the supplier at a substantial savings.
Carroll also looks for ways to help others in the county save money. Our
efforts led to the Volunteer Emergency Services Association purchasing
items through the county government’s purchasing and warehousing
operations. This allows the volunteers to buy at a lower price. The
initiative was recognized with a 2006 National Association of Counties
Management & Budget
While the Comptroller writes the checks and reviews the books, it is the
Department of Management and Budget that facilitates the
Commissioners’ plans for future spending and collection. This past year,
for the first time, the budget process was televised and opened to the
public. People could watch the development of both the operating and
capital budgets, beginning with the staff recommendation and winding
through agency requests, a public hearing, appeals, and its final adoption.
In the end, a general fund of $302,636,000 was approved for fiscal year
2007, which began July 1, 2006. Our grants office helped to secure $10.9
million in state and federal funds toward the operating budget.
The County’s financial picture is broader than the general fund alone. A
capital fund covers major projects, such as building a new school, park or
road. The FY07 capital budget, part of the six-year Community Investment
Plan, totals $110,627,037. Five operations also work within self-supported
enterprise funds: water and sewer; solid waste; airport; firearms facility;
and septage. Together, the funds total just over $38.9 million.
One way to keep expenses down is to minimize our risk. The fewer on-
the-job accidents we have, the lower our insurance bills. Management
and Budget also oversees our risk management operation, which focuses
on reducing liabilities and potential problems.
Recreation & Parks
Residents can find several new features in the county’s parks from this
past year. New walking trails were added at Deer Park. A soccer field
opened at Freedom Park. We completed a trail and parking area at the
Sports Complex, and Piney Run Park got a pavilion and renovations to its
upper comfort station. In the western part of the county, construction
began at Double Pipe Creek Park. And at Union Mills, work was completed
on the flume and dam. For those
who prefer classes to fields, a new
Summer Program Guide was
initiated in 2006.
At Hashawha, a wetlands
classroom was created. The
project was a joint venture
between the Franchesca Borrelli
Johnson Environmental Fund, Carroll County Outdoor School, and the
Hashawha/Bear Branch Advisory Council.
Another partnership, this one with BGE, led to the planting of several
large trees and more than 100 seedlings at Sandymount Park. The National
Arbor Day celebration included a poster contest for students at
neighboring Sandymount Elementary School.
We celebrated National Recreation and Parks Month with a proclamation
declaring July as Recreation and Parks Month in Carroll County. To help
people mark the event, a calendar suggested recreational activities for
each day of July.
We recently wrapped up surveys for all the services offered by our
Department of Recreation & Parks. The department’s new web site
launched in December, too, making it easier for people to find the
information they want.
Our Planning Department spearheaded
efforts to get citizen involvement in the
Pathways Plan, the revised comprehensive
plan. Meetings were held in 23 different
communities in the spring. Business and
industry representatives met with planners.
The Council of Governments – which includes representatives from all
eight towns, the Finksburg and Freedom citizen councils, and the Board
of Education – was briefed on the process. A conference offered insights
on growth and development countywide. Papers explaining nine topics
of interest were made available on the Pathways web site
(www.carrollpathways.org), as were four newsletters. We also held two
growth management workshops to familiarize more people with the
concepts involved in Pathways. The revisions are expected to be adopted
in the summer of 2007.
We adopted the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area plan as a way to
boost tourism and make tax incentives available to businesses in
designated areas of Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties. Plans
such as this and ones for smaller areas are essential to outlining how and
where growth should occur, and what tools are available to direct it. We
adopted the Mount Airy and Environs Community Comprehensive Plan
in February 2006.The Westminster and Environs plan was presented to
the public for review last year and we anticipate adopting it this spring.
On the environmental side of the department, one of the major initiatives
of the past year was the Patapsco Improvement Project. Long-term
environmental and stormwater drainage problems in the historic
community will be reduced once the project is complete.
One of the first projects we tackled in 2006
was to work with our delegation to pass a
gaming law that allowed senior center
patrons to play bingo and other games for
small cash prizes. State law had limited
the number of times each week they could
enjoy these pastimes. Several Carroll seniors traveled to Annapolis to
testify in support of the bill. Their testimony was so strong that the House
Ways and Means Committee, in an unusual move, immediately voted in
favor of the bill.
Some of these same seniors were able to share another big occasion with
us last year when we opened the new North Carroll Senior and Community
Center in Greenmount. The facility is more than four times bigger than
the center that had operated across the street. Plans for a new South Carroll
Senior and Community Center – including a gymnasium – in Eldersburg
were also finalized in 2006. We hope to open the doors to that
environmentally friendly facility in the fall of 2008.
While senior activities are the most visible outreach, Citizen Services helps
people of all ages. In fact, our Local Management Board earned a national
Achievement Award for a program it designed for school-aged children.
A Comprehensive Interagency System of Care for Violence Prevention’s goal is
to keep children from getting more deeply involved in the Department of
Another important aspect of this department is the Carroll County
Advocacy & Investigation Center, which investigated 216 cases of sex
offenses and other physically abusive crimes last year.
Several resource directories were published this year. There is a resource
guide for caregivers, the Department of Citizen Services Guide to Human
Services, and a homeownership program for families trying to become
As one of the top 25 employers in the county,
Carroll County Government prides itself in
being an efficient operation. The
Commissioners’ staff, as of the close of fiscal
year 2006, numbered 650.01, or 3.77 full-time
equivalent employees for every 1,000 residents.
That ratio is one of the lowest in the state for county governments.
Even when our allied agencies are included – those positions in the Sheriff’s
Office, the detention center, courts, State’s Attorney’s Office and the Soil
Conservation District – the number is only slightly higher, at 5.37
employees for every 1,000 residents.
To assure fiscal responsibility, employee contributions for benefits are
evaluated annually. Health insurance premiums were increased for
employees as of January 1 and will be re-evaluated for calendar year 2008.
In our second year of offering online application for employment, we had
more than 1,800 applications submitted, with approximately 40 percent
of those submitted electronically.
We designed the county’s first “green” building, the environmentally
friendly library branch in Finksburg, as well as an expansion of the
Taneytown library branch. “Green” buildings are part of an increased
effort toward sustainable design and construction. We are incorporating
geothermal energy systems and innovative stormwater management
techniques in our projects. The long-term treatment facility under
construction in Sykesville will include some of these elements when it is
The most notable renovation in 2006 was at the Circuit Courthouse. A
new courtroom was completed along with sidewalks and entrances and
larger quarters for the State’s Attorney’s Child Support offices. General
Services’ staff also designs facilities, such as the Leister and Krimgold
parks that are being developed, and maintains our existing buildings. Our
crews replaced roofs and windows, painted walls, linked fire alarm
systems, even installed a new bathroom.
Last summer, the National Association of Counties (NACo) highlighted
our efforts to manage energy costs through a contract with Johnson
Controls. The initiative is guaranteed to save Carroll $5 million over the
next 15 years by installing more energy-efficient equipment. We also put
in place a program to save approximately 15 percent when county vehicles
need fuel but cannot fill up at our own pumps.
Other technological efforts include wireless computers our inspectors now
use to record results while they are in the field, which ultimately will give
contractors access to the information within minutes, rather than hours
or days. Our warehouse operation is able to save time and money by
ordering supplies online from several vendors.
We are proud to report that our Bureau
of Fleet Management’s safety record was
exceptional in 2006, with no injuries
reported. In this safe environment, they
were able to reduce the backlog of
preventive maintenance work from 14
pages to three.
Our legal staff drafts ordinances that we request, such as the creation of
the senior tax credit and tightening of our ethics law. This year, we also
undertook a comprehensive review and update of the business
neighborhood retail zoning designation.
We coordinated 10 workshops around Carroll to help voters learn more
about the forms of government available to counties in Maryland. A
detailed Web site was created, along with a video and comparison charts,
and the top reference book was made available at each library branch.
The education effort was to help voters understand the intricacies of a
potential change from commissioner to code home rule, which appeared
on the November ballot.
We also continued our nonpartisan legislative presence in Annapolis on
issues that affect county government. Our staff provided legislators with
support and information about the impact of important measures. For
example, Carroll Area Transit System and the Humane Society can now
save between $150,000 and $200,000 a year on insurance coverage, thanks
to a bill that passed the General Assembly last spring. The gaming bill for
senior centers is another example of the effectiveness of a consistent
presence at the General Assembly.
By initiating and later supporting legislative efforts to increase annual
state funding for agricultural preservation, Carroll County ultimately
received an additional $400,000 from the state last year.
Some operations are conducted through
offices rather than full-sized departments.
Below are initiatives from our offices in the
Information and Technology Services
Our ITS staff sorts through the ever-changing technology, helping every
department decide which innovations they need. One example is the
system our inspectors are using to record information in the field. That
same system is also being used to respond to citizens’ complaints in other
areas, namely Resource Management and Grading.
The Internet is a vital tool to communicate with the public. In 2006, we
added several features to our web site (http://ccgovernment.carr.org).
Visitors to our site can find online videos of public meetings, both live
and archived. They can sign up for customized email notices when items
they care about are updated on our web site. We’ve added a page where
people can keep up on the status of major projects in our Community
Investment Plan. And surveyors are now able to find survey control
Another project we have been working on is a countywide fiber network.
We partnered with the county’s libraries, community college and public
schools to provide a computer link between more than 120 government
Performance auditors look to see if we are conducting business in the
most efficient and practical ways possible. If changes need to be made,
the office offers solutions. One such solution earned a 2006 National
Association of Counties’ Achievement Award. In an effort to better track
vehicles that go home with employees, our staff created a “bridge” that
allowed information in existing fleet software to be transferred ultimately
to existing software that any department could use. The bridge saved
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the County $20,000 up front, with more savings realized with every new
This office also oversees the Carroll County Regional Airport. For the
fourth year in a row, the airport fund’s revenues exceeded expenses. We
are in the midst of updating our 20-year master plan, which is required
by the federal government. The process we’ve used to date earned us
another NACo Achievement Award last year. In the meantime, other
projects have helped to make the facility safer and more secure. New
lights were installed last year to provide pilots more precise guidance to
the runway. We are adding surveillance equipment and round-the-clock
security. In addition, we are constructing a maintenance building and
have installed two more 24,000-gallon tanks at our aviation fuel farm.
Our final Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties
for 2006 was for a survey of residents that we conducted with help from
McDaniel College. Residents told us about potholes and drainage
problems that we were able to fix within days. We gathered important
information about services people currently receive as well as services
We are always looking for ways to try to reach more people. Our speakers
bureau connects our top-level managers with civic groups and other
organizations who want to learn more about various aspects of county
government. We bring forms and brochures to evening meetings in our
towns and communities for people who cannot visit us during business
hours. This past year, more and more information became available online,
through emails, web pages, newsletters and videos. In addition, we
continue to work through the local media to inform the public about
policies and actions.
Our audio/visual production office is responsible for Cable Channel 24.
Since its debut in 2005, the channel has played an integral role in “opening
up” government and bringing it into the homes of Carroll County viewers.
Its mission is to educate and inform.
Channel 24 provides residents with full access to county commissioner
meetings, public hearings, boards and commissions and a host of special
Seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day broadcasting features a bulletin board
with up-to-date information on local events, Carroll County Government
job opportunities and public meeting notices. As a special feature, we
provide an additional audio track of time-sensitive issues that occur during
meetings and public hearings. Each month, special programs air to keep
viewers informed on the most critical topics facing Carroll County officials.
For those who do not have cable television, many of our programs can be
Public Safety Support
We vastly improved our communications capabilities
in several ways this past year. Because of the new
Lineboro Communications Tower, radios now work in
areas where critical gaps used to place emergency
responders at risk. Our 911 telephone system, until
recently the oldest in Maryland, is now state-of-the-art,
thanks to a state grant. Another new feature, which was used in December
when a train derailed in Marriottsville, allows our 911 center to notify
people of emergencies using a recorded telephone message. The
derailment also proved the usefulness of our new mobile communications
vehicle, serving as the command center for the multi-county incident.
Thanks to other upgrades, we are now able to monitor the operational
integrity of our simulcast radio system in real time.
Fire protection efforts were boosted in 2006, as well. Beginning in January,
all new homes must be protected by sprinklers. In Keysville, our first
regional 30,000-gallon underground tank was installed, making a water
supply available to battle blazes.
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency described our “People
with Special Needs” program, launched last fall, as a model that all
jurisdictions should follow. The initiative helps emergency managers
identify – before a disaster occurs – those residents who may require extra
assistance. We also placed nine automated external defibrillators at senior
centers and in key county offices.
Although not directly under the board, we would be remiss if we failed to
mention the professionalism and hard work exhibited by the Sheriff’s Office
this past year. The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office became fully accredited
by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in
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Our Department of Economic Development diligently seeks new oppor-
tunities for business development to support the local economy. We work
in partnership with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic
Development and the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore to attract
new business to Carroll as well as to encourage expansion of local busi-
nesses. We have been very successful in securing state investments to
support local economic development projects.
Our industrial and commercial tax base continues to grow as a result of
the expanding local economy. In fiscal year 2006, commercial/industrial
development tax revenues increased by $2.2 million, or 15 percent. Our
growth rate was the largest experienced by any jurisdiction in the region.
During the same time, nearly 1 million square feet of space was built or
renovated. The latest data from the Maryland Department of Labor, Li-
censing and Regulation shows that Carroll County gained 2,533 jobs dur-
ing calendar year 2005. Numbers also show an encouraging trend in our
During 2006, we welcomed new companies such as HR Nicholson and
Kellogg Snacks Jacketing Operation to Carroll County, while working with
firms that already have a presence here to expand local operations, in-
cluding General Dynamics and Flowserve Corp.
Business development efforts in 2006 focused on large-scale development
projects that will expand our commercial and industrial inventory.
Speculative building remains a strong indicator of the economic health of
Carroll County. More than 60,000 feet of new flex space was recently con-
structed at the Air Business Center. After much work and anticipation, the
Westminster Technology Park is now ready to market and several devel-
opers have expressed interest in the property.
With new products on the market, including anticipated office space at
the Warfield Complex in Sykesville, we are positioning ourselves to at-
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tract more technology-based companies to Carroll. This is especially im-
portant as the Base Realignment and Closure Act impacts the Greater Bal-
We want to note some important accomplishments from the past year
within the Department of Economic Development:
A new “Priority Permitting” system recognizes the importance of signifi-
cant economic development projects by streamlining the site plan review
process without skirting regulations. “Enterprise Carroll,” an investment
program launched to promote growth among existing businesses in key
sectors. Grants can be used to make new concepts a reality, conduct feasi-
bility studies, and upgrade technology infrastructure so the firms can en-
ter new markets. To ensure we stay informed of activities and issues af-
fecting local businesses, we began a new business retention program called
“Inc. link.” Customized software provides a full array of technology, train-
ing, management and survey solutions for business retention, workforce
development and project tracking.
To leverage resources and create a more efficient delivery system for en-
trepreneurs, we joined together “Four Partners with One Purpose.” This
network of small business training and consultants supports existing and
future small business owners as they plan and grow their operation. We
fund the cost of training, which is held at Carroll Community College’s
Business Training Center in cooperation with one-on-one counseling ser-
vices from the Maryland Small Business Development Center and Start-
A major economic engine across Maryland is tourism. Visitors to Carroll
increased in 2006, thanks in part to new marketing. Major events drew
nearly 230,000 people and brought $72 million into the local economy.
Finally, the department is actively engaged with the Department of Plan-
ning on the Comprehensive Plan update. One of the key areas in the up-
date is the focus on how to plan and attract quality new industrial and
commercial development. A consultant has been hired to analyze Carroll
County’s industrially and commercially zoned lands and to recommend
appropriate changes to stimulate quality economic development oppor-
tunities. As part of the study, the consultant will suggest infrastructure
improvements and possible funding mechanisms. These recommenda-
tions will help Carroll County to lay the foundation for future economic
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Each year the county sells bonds to pay for a portion of the costs of
capital expenses such as schools, roads, parks and government
buildings. The bonds are rated on the county’s credit-worthiness
and ability to repay the investors who purchase the bonds.
This year, Carroll earned excellent ratings from all three rating
agencies. Fitch gave the county a rating of AA+, Standard and Poor’s
a rating of AA, and Moody’s Aa2. As a result, the county’s interest
rate was 3.88 percent on the $20.66 million in bonds it issued October
10, 2006. The lower the interest rate, the less money the county
must pay back over the life of the bonds.
To gain the high ratings, the Departments of the Comptroller,
Economic Development, and Management and Budget presented
information to the rating agencies about the county’s land use,
demographics, economic development efforts, and financial
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County Commissioners’ Office 410-386-2043
Department of Citizen Services 410-386-3600
Bureau of Aging 410-386-3800
Bureau of Housing & Community Development 410-386-3600
Department of the Comptroller 410-386-2085
Bureau of Accounting 410-386-2085
Bureau of Purchasing 410-386-2181
Collections Office 410-386-2971
Department of the County Attorney 410-386-2030
Board of License Commissioners 410-386-2061
Board of Zoning Appeals 410-386-2061
Department of Economic Development 410-386-2070
Business and Employment Resource Center 410-386-2820
Tourism Office 410-386-2983
Department of General Services 410-386-2248
Bureau of Building Construction 410-386-2152
Bureau of Warehouse Operations 410-386-6755
Bureau of Facilities 410-386-6700
Bureau of Fleet Management 410-386-6750
Bureau of Permits and Inspections 410-386-2674
Department of Human Resources 410-386-2129
Department of Management and Budget 410-386-2082
Bureau of Budget 410-386-2082
Office of Grants Analysis 410-386-2310
Office of Rick Management 410-386-2082
Department of Planning 410-386-2145
Bureau of Comprehensive Planning 410-386-2145
Bureau of Development Review 410-386-2143
Planning and Zoning Commission 410-386-2145
Department of Public Works 410-386-2035
Bureau of Engineering 410-386-2157
Bureau of Roads 410-386-6717
Bureau of Solid Waste 410-386-2035
Bureau of Utilities 410-386-2164
Department of Recreation and Parks 410-386-2103
Bureau of Recreation 410-386-2103
Office of Information and Technology Services 410-386-2053
Office of Performance Auditing and Special Projects 410-386-2340
Office of Public Information 410-386-2973
Office of Public Safety Support Services 410-386-2260
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This publication was prepared by the
Office of Public Information
Carroll County Government
225 North Center Street
Westminster, Marylard 21157
For more information or to receive additional copies,
please contact: Vivian Laxton
Public Information Administrator