Howard Co., Baltimore tighten belts a notch Loss of state aid means reduction in services, layoff of 60 city workers

January 09, 1991|By Ann LoLordo and Martin C. Evans

The loss of $1.5 million in state aid will force Baltimore to lay off more than 60 municipal employees and force cutbacks in some services to the city's poor and elderly, city officials said yesterday.

"We are concerned that cuts in the programs are going to lead to more social dislocation," Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said. "The state may end up paying more later on than they are currently paying because of the effects of that dislocation."

City officials said yesterday that the loss of funds would be felt in a wide range of programs affecting mostly poor and elderly Baltimoreans, such as rat eradication, child day care centers, a home for battered women and a medical clinic at the Waxter Senior Center.

Hardest hit would be the rat eradication program, which sends workers into neighborhoods to attack rat infestations. The program will lose 45 workers.

The cuts also will force the Health Department to fire half of its 38 health aides, who make home visits to low-income elderly people who are temporarily unable to care for themselves.

In all, city officials said the cuts would eliminate or curtail services that go to some 10,000 people.

The state government, staggering under a $423 million deficit, yanked $1.5 million in aid from the city on Jan. 1. The money was used to pay the salaries of the housing department and Health Department workers who will be laid off, city and union officials said yesterday.

The employees will be notified Monday of the layoffs, which are to take effect Feb. 1, the officials said.

Bill Toohey, a spokesman for the city Housing and Community Development office, said the department was "working on ways to absorb this loss." But he could not provide details of how the department would do that.

Jesse Hoskins, who is serving as both the city's labor commissioner and personnel director, said the city would be "hard pressed" to find vacancies in the city government with which to absorb laid-off employees.

He said he had already met with the two municipal unions whose members would be involved in the layoffs.

"We are going to begin working with the unions to refer individuals to the private sector," Mr. Hoskins said.

Joanne Selinske, an aide to the mayor who administers two-thirds of the money that will be lost, said that because the cuts came so late in the fiscal year, many programs would have to be virtually shut down.

Ms. Selinske said the state deficit makes further cuts next year likely.

"We've been told unofficially not to expect as much as we have gotten this year," she said.

Cheryl Boykins Glenn, president of the City Union of Baltimore, said the public should be concerned about the effect the layoffs will have on the city's efforts to eradicate and control rats.

She said her members were being hit the hardest by the layoffs, which affect six CUB members who work in the Health Department and 45 who work in the rodent control program. The rodent control workers hold a variety of jobs, including educating dTC community groups on how to make their neighborhoods rat-free, inspecting properties for rat infestation and trying to catch rats. Ms. Glenn said she was concerned that other CUB employees might be asked to perform the tasks of laid-off workers, increasing their workload.

Ms. Glenn said union officials also questioned why layoffs were not more evenly distributed among workers and administrators. Mayor Schmoke, she said, had given "us his word in the past that when cuts are made, consideration would be made in administration. You can lay off one supervisor and save four" people in the work force, she said.

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