Robert R. Neall, the Republican who succeeds Democrat O. James Lighthizer as Anne Arundel County executive tomorrow, is wasting no time preparing one of the state's wealthiest subdivisions for tough fiscal times. In budget briefings over the past few weeks, he has asked county departments to slice 10 to 15 percent from their budgets. At this point, the cuts are merely theoretical, an exercise in learning to live with less.
At a time of constrained revenues, the new executive is reordering priorities toward service and away from bureaucracy. weed out costly inefficiencies and duplication, his transition team is reviewing each department's purpose, staffing, funding and productivity levels. Several have been targeted for reined-in spending.
That Mr. Neall is tackling Anne Arundel's relatively mild fiscal problems early and aggressively is good news. Unlike neighboring Prince George's and Montgomery counties, Anne Arundel isn't yet facing deficit projections. Partly because of good management under Mr. Lighthizer, partly because its real estate slowdown hasn't been as severe as that experienced elsewhere, Arundel's revenues are expected to come in flat this year. Downsizing government now greatly reduces the likelihood Draconian measures down the road.