Hayden has no plans to fire anyone Baltimore County fire chief resigns as of December 1

November 08, 1990|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

Despite whispered worries about job security among Baltimore County employees who were appointed by defeated executive Dennis F. Rasmussen, incoming executive Roger B. Hayden said he will not automatically fire anyone.

County Fire Chief Paul H. Reincke, a 38-year veteran and chief since 1975, didn't give Hayden a chance, though, announcing his retirement yesterday, effective Dec. 1. Robert W. Hughes, director of the Office of Communications -- a department Hayden criticized as an excessive public relations arm -- is expected to resign shortly, sources said.

The day after his stunning victory, Hayden yesterday had more to say about what he won't do than about what he will after his swearing-in Dec. 3.

The first thing he won't be doing is "going to Disney World," a biting reference to Rasmussen's 1986 vacation trip that later became controversial when it was revealed that a large computer company had paid for part of it.

Hayden was to leave today for a week's rest at his Cambridge waterfront retreat.

The Republican former school board president said that the ranks of teachers and street-level firefighters and police officers will not be reduced in his cost-cutting efforts, even by attrition.

He also would not commit to lowering the county property-tax rate, despite his anti-tax-and-spend rhetoric during the campaign.

Hayden said his very first acts in office will be to fulfill his campaign pledges not to accept the $12,000 pay raise the executive is due, to change official cars and reduce the Office of Communications staff to two people. He said he also wants to raise morale among county employees by making them feel they are part of the government and not just functionaries.

And, he said, he wants "to get out into the community very quickly," to show people that he will be accessible.

The pay raise will either be returned to the county treasury or donated to charity, he said, and the executive's Lincoln Town Car will be traded for a Ford. Hayden said he will drive himself to and from work and during the day as well, unless county Police Chief Cornelius Behan can persuade him otherwise.

Hayden said he wants to quickly find a location and start building a long-planned, 100-bed drunk-driving prison to help relieve crowding problems at police precinct lockups. Rasmussen had delayed building, saying he couldn't find a suitable site.

Otherwise, Hayden said, he will interview each department head and senior staff employee about their jobs to see if he wants to retain them. No one will be automatically fired, he said, but he added that several who have worked hard in Rasmussen's political campaigns may not want to remain.

Hayden said he will instruct department heads to remain out of politics from now on. "I'll take care of the politics. They are to run their departments," he said.

County Administrative Officer Frank C. Robey Jr. is guaranteed his job by county charter at least until June, to provide a transition period in just such circumstances.

On taxes, Hayden said he will appoint a commission to study the county's tax structure and spending practices, a promise he made in the campaign.

"The overall cost of government will be held in check, and we'll see what effect that has on taxes," he said, refusing to commit himself to reducing the county's tax rate of $2.895 per $100 of assessed property value. Property tax bill increases will be sharply limited in July anyway by the 4 percent cap on assessment increases enacted by Rasmussen and the County Council. Budget projections for next year show tough economic times ahead for the county, with the recession keeping revenues down sharply.

Hayden said that, although he plans to cut the county work force by attrition, that does not include the school system, which makes up 42 percent of the county budget, and class size will not grow larger, Hayden said. The county is expecting about 4,000 more students next September than this year.

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