Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann thinks she can avoid a property tax increase and layoffs by keeping next year's $174.6 million spending request four percent lower than the current year's budget. "If they start cutting, that means lay-offs," she said of possible reductions by the county council.
Ms. Rehrmann's request may be a "bare-bones budget," but it is unlikely that the Harford County Council will rubber-stamp it. For one thing, she and Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson have been publicly arguing about fiscal matters ever since they took office last year. There is no reason to expect a truce now that Ms. Rehrmann has outlined her four-year spending priorities.
We fully expect the county council to engage in some grandstanding. But after that is done, council members ought to take a deep breath and join Ms. Rehrmann in a thorough examination of the root cause of Harford's current financial predicament. Unless the county can quickly diversify its economic base, it will be jumping from one financial crisis to another as its property-tax base proves incapable of supporting its service and infrastructure demands.