Bob Neall calls county government "the company." We want to run the company efficiently, he says. We want to be sure the company's in good shape. And the Anne Arundel County executive is off to a promising start.
Neall's first budget -- a business-like, bottom-line approach to county services -- is, in a word, austere. For the first time in the history of charter government, the county budget will be lower than it was the previous year. Yet Neall has proposed no layoffs. And though 80 vacant positions were cut, 80 new ones were added. So the total number of government workers stays intact. In addition, Neall managed to provide an increase, albeit a small one, for the Department of Education, including 35 new teachers and five new after-school programs. Essential services like uniformed fire and police positions will still be fully funded, and water and sewer service will be extended. Recycling is also slated to increase, with countywide curbside pickup in fiscal year 1993.
Cuts mostly come among frills that were affordable in the boom years -- the county's beautification program, for example, and its once-huge, pay-as-you-go fund, which allowed Arundel to plan impressive capital projects without incurring debt. But all told, the quality of life in Arundel will remain pretty much intact.