Budgets lean in city, Baltimore, Howard counties Hayden unveils $1.14 billion budget

April 17, 1991|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

BALTIMORE COUNTY — An article and chart in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly reported when the Baltimore County Council must adopt the budget. The budget must be adopted by June 1.

Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden unveiled yesterday a $1.136 billion budget that would cut the property tax rate 2 cents, provide no pay raises and trim manpower in almost every department except schools.

Mr. Hayden proposed increasing spending by just under 2 percent and trimming the tax rate to $2.875 for each $100 of assessed value. But the average tax bill on a $100,000 house would still increase by $28 to $1,147 because of rising assessments, said Fred Homan, the budget director.


The budget also calls for raising the annual sewer service charge from an average $126 to $143, and boosting fines for parking violations about $3 or $4, Mr. Homan said.

The biggest spending increase went toward education, where the former school board president proposed hiring 220 teachers to keep class sizes at current levels of 22 to 26 students and handle 4,003 additional students expected to file into classrooms next fall.

The county's three community colleges also will have 45 new teachers and administrators to cover enrollment increases that are expected to reach the equivalent of roughly 1,020 more full-time students next fall.

School Superintendent Robert Y. Dubel, who received roughly half the $51 million increase requested by the school board, said he was "sorely disappointed" that teachers will not be getting the 3 percent pay raise negotiated with the board.

But he added that it is difficult to complain about a budget that "maintains the status quo" for the 86,800-pupil system when the county faces such tough economic times.

"We fared a lot better than the other county departments and I think we have to recognize that," he said.

The budget calls for modest increases in police, fire and environmental services. It calls for no layoffs, but eliminates vacant positions in public works, the health department and the county libraries.

About 53 vacant positions, ranging from truck drivers to laborers and secretaries, were eliminated from the public works budget.

Another 27 vacant positions in the health department were cut, most of them for nurses in county clinics and those who perform in-home services.

Heads of those departments said they had been managing without them for several months -- and would keep doing so.

"Obviously, we'll get the job done without the people," saiPublic Works Director Eugene Neff. "It's going to be tough. We're going to have to look closely to see exactly how we'll manage."

One of the few service cuts is a proposal to close on Sundays all but the three main branches of the county library -- North Point, Towson and Randallstown. The cut will mean 36 fewer positions for the library department and a reduction in hours for part-time workers.

The county now has 15 libraries open on Sunday, said Charles Robinson, director of the county public library.

Mr. Homan said another service cut may be felt by neighborhoods familiar with the community clean-up program.

The program is being reorganized so that recycling centers and bulk collection programs will replace the traditional clean-up programs run periodically throughout Baltimore County.

Mr. Hayden said that other than that, the budget means few service cuts. "I think that what we've done is basically going to be transparent to the average person, in terms of service," he said.

The budget was met with guarded praise by County Council members, who must review it, and with resignation by labor leaders, who must live with it.

Morris Barrett, president of the 1,800-member Baltimore County

Classified Employees Association, said that although the budget offers no cost-of-living raise, that most of his members will see some longevity pay increases already built into their contracts.

"Everybody would like to see a raise, but in these economic times it's understandable that there isn't one," said Mr. Barrett.

Council Chairman Douglas B. Riley, R-4th, said he anticipated a 4 percent spending increase, but that the council will still look closely in the weeks ahead to see what expenses may be trimmed. The council must approve the budget and set the tax rate by May 1.

"I've said since taking office that our plan, our tax plan, is to control spending," Councilman Riley told Mr. Hayden yesterday after the county executive presented his budget. "It appears you've taken an enormous step toward doing that," Mr. Riley said.

Mr. Hayden's proposed budget also sets aside an anticipated surplus of $27 million, enough to maintain Baltimore County's Triple-A bond rating.

Baltimore County budget

Following are highlights of Baltimore County's proposed operating budget for fiscal year 1992, which begins July 1. A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 23 at Loch Raven High School on Cromwell Bridge Road. The deadline for approving the budget is May 1.

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