Police, Library Would Suffer From $3 Million State Aid Cut

December 09, 1990|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

Anne Arundel would lose more than $3 million in state aid for county police, community college, library and other services under Gov. William Donald Schaefer's proposed deficit reduction plan.

Schaefer announced his strategy Thursday for cutting an additional $242.6 million from the current state budget, thus eliminating a deficit that has grown to $423 million. Those cuts include $33 million in aid to Baltimore and the 23 counties for police, community colleges, libraries and other programs.

County budget officials were still assessing the potential impact of the cuts Friday. Steve Welkos, assistant budget officer, said Anne Arundel probably will lose $3.06 million if the state reductions occur.

"Though we're not projecting a (local) deficit, this would compound" an already tight budget situation, Welkos said. "A $3 million reduction means there would have to be further cost-saving measures."

The county will be lucky to meet its revenue projections for the current fiscal year, Welkos said, so the chances are slim that the county will be able to use its own money to replace any lost due to state reductions.

State aid programs for police, community colleges and libraries are mandated under a state law that specifies a formula for calculating the amount of money each jurisdiction should get. Changing the formula to reduce the amount of aid would require legislative approval.

Several lawmakers already have indicated they oppose such reductions.

Currently, Anne Arundel gets a total of $26.8 million from four funds that would be affected under Schaefer's plan, Welkos said. That includes $3.9 million for police, $8.7 million for Anne Arundel Community College and $1.1 million for libraries.

It also includes an $8.5 million property tax grant -- state property tax money that is returned to the county -- which Anne Arundel uses as part of its general fund revenues.

Under Schaefer's plan, Welkos said, those four funds would be cut by at least 10 percent.

Edward Hall, director of the county's library system, said Friday he is "extremely concerned" about Schaefer's proposal.The state's $1.1 million contribution accounts for about 10 percent of the library system's $10 million budget.

Francis J. "Zeke" Zylwitis, the county's director of criminal justice, said, "There's definitely going to be an impact" if the county police loses any of its state money.

The state money now goes into the general fund and can be used for any police expense.

"If we lose 10 percent, that's $390,000. That's roughly five or six police officers," said Tom Mullenix, assistant county budget officer.

Cutting $3 million out of a total $617 million county budget might not seem difficult, Mullenix said, "but it's not going to be easy to accomplish. We don't have that much flexibility. This will have a substantial ripple effect on our budget and on services. We are funded for that money. If it's not available, we have a problem to face."

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