Cry for art teachers heard in Harford budget fight

May 03, 1991|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Evening Sun Staff

As a small group of Harford County residents pleaded for more art teachers, school nurses and support for volunteer firefighters, the County Council president and county executive continued to lock heads in a power struggle.

The dispute pitting Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson, a Republican, and County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, a Democrat, has become a war of words as well as a question about spending power.

About 30 people spoke last night at the first of two public hearings on Rehrmann's $174.6 million operating budget for fiscal 1992. The spending plan, which represents a 4 percent cut from this year, does not include a property-tax increase but does include proposed increases in the recordation tax and water and sewer-use fees.

The most consistent plea at the hearing dealt with the need for more art teachers in elementary schools. Only four of the county's 30 elementary schools have art teachers, and the school board is seeking to add six more.

The second public hearing on the budget is to be held at 8 p.m. Thursday at Havre de Grace High School, 700 Congress Ave.

Apart from last night's hearing, Wilson and Rehrmann continued to squabble over the executive's proposal to set aside a $6.3 million surplus from the current year to protect the county's bond rating.

Rehrmann produced an opinion from the county attorney this week in support of her plan, and Wilson has accused the executive of being unwilling to compromise. Wilson wants to use dTC at least some of the $6.3 million to fund modest pay increases for county workers, and he claimed last night that the county charter allows the council to use the money.

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