Wicomico OKs State Court Grants

SALISBURY — The Wicomico County Council this week approved a pair of state grants for various court-related programs after receiving assurances the county would not be responsible for funding the programs if the grants cease to exist in the future.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council approved a pair of resolutions authorizing County Executive Rick Pollitt, Jr. to accept a grant totaling $142,094 from the state’s Department of Family Administration to support Wicomico’s family services programs. The grant is a pass-through from the state’s judiciary department to the local judiciary department to fund a variety of programs and the staff needed to carry them out. Wicomico County Family Services Coordinator Lindsay Tayman told the council the level of state funding continued to decline.

“We’ll continue to receive this money from year to year, but the amount might vary,” she said. “This year, the average cuts in these grants around the state went down about 11 percent.”

A large portion of the grant is dedicated to the salaries of two individuals who administer the programs. Some on the council questioned whether the programs and the employees that run them would continue if the state funding dried up.

“If the grant is not forthcoming, the positions would cease to exist,” said County Administrator Matthew Creamer.

Among the programs supported by the grant is the self-help clinics offered pro bono by members of the county’s Bar Association. Each Monday for several hours, two attorneys from the Bar are available to provide limited legal advice to county residents struggling with domestic issues, for example.

The second grant approved by the Wicomico County Council on Tuesday totaled nearly $224,000 from the state’s Office of Problem Solving Courts for a variety of programs administered by the Wicomico County court system. Among the programs supported by the state grant is the county’s Adult Drug Court, which provides sentencing alternatives for judges in drug cases including an extensive supervision and treatment program as an alternative to jail sentences.

Councilwoman Gail Bartkovick told her colleagues the Office of Problem Solving Courts and the county’s Adult Drug Court were achieving the desired results. 
“I think this has become a very successful program in Wicomico,” she said. “The last graduating class was the largest ever and this funding is extremely important in keeping that going.”