The county budget office has emerged as a favored child in County Executive Robert R. Neall's proposed 1992 budget.
In a year when almost every department except public schools and police has been cut orasked to maintain the status quo, Neall is suggesting that the budget office get a 14 percent increase to pay for a new "management analysis" team.
Neall's proposed spending plan, released yesterday, allots $1.07 million for the budget office, up from $895,620 in 1991.
The difference is $160,280 for three budget and management analysts and a secretary, plus supplies, furniture and travel expenses.
Two of the analysts would be regular merit system employees, at a combined cost of$95,810; the other analyst and the secretary would be hired on a contractual basis at a total cost of $48,680.
The management analysisunit was recommended by Neall's transition team, which released a report earlier this week on ways toimprove county government. The unit's mission is to find ways to save money by continually monitoring theeffectiveness and efficiency of government agencies, said Dennis Parkinson, county budget officer.
While most County Council members supported the concept of the analysis unit, some had reservations about giving the budget office a substantial increase when other programshave been told to do without.
For example, the budget for the county Health Department was reduced 5.6 percent, from $21.4 million to $20.2 million, while libraries were cut from $8.2 million to $7.9 million.
"As a whole, we have a lot of questions" about the four new budget positions, Councilwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River, said after yesterday's public hearing on the budget office.
"When you're looking at being very tight with the budget, you have to questionanything that's that big of an increase in one department . . . whenyou're looking at cuts in human services and other things."
Councilman George Bachman, D-Linthicum, asked whether the county auditor, a part of the legislative branch, shouldn't be handling budget analyses.
But the auditor, Joseph Novotny, said the county charter makesit clear that the budget office should handle monitoring of county agencies. The auditor's office performs periodic financial checks.
"I don't have any problem" with a budget management analysis unit, Novotny said, adding, "I'm not sure I'm in favor of the four positions."
At the end of the month, Novotny will recommend cuts and changesto Neall's budget to the County Council.