The three Democrats on the Howard County Council set their stamp on the Republican executive's budget yesterday, restoring $2.7 million in school spending and agreeing to go along with a 14-cent increase in the property tax rate.
None of the five council members, however, supported restoring enough money to finance salary step increases or the previously negotiated 6 percent pay raise for teachers.
Jim Swab, president of the Howard County Education Association, said the teachers' union already was organizing for the 1994 elections, although he could not say if it would target County Executive Charles I. Ecker, council members who did not restore the raises he cut, or both.
Some teachers said they would not work after hours on their own time, skipping parent-teacher association meetings and other activities, Mr. Swab said.
Council members said they expected Mr. Ecker's proposed property tax rate of $2.59 for each $100 of assessed value to be approved when the 1992 budget was adopted May 23. At that rate, the owner of a $180,000 home would pay $198 more, or an estimated total of $2,000, for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Voting as a bloc, C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, and Paul R. Farragut, D-4th, restored money for 26 "pool" teachers to be sent to overcrowded schools, 12 teachers for gifted and talented programs in middle schools, seven resource teachers, 7.5 custodians, new books and materials and staff development.
Councilman Darrel E. Drown, R-2nd, supported restoring money for the gifted and talented teaching and joined with Councilman Charles C. Feaga, R-5th, in approving money for additional books and materials. The two Republicans opposed the other additions to the education budget.
The Democrats came up with the money by eliminating a $1 million "rainy day" fund set up by Mr. Ecker, transferring money for boilers and heating and air-conditioning units to the capital budget, cutting $109,380 from the $1.5 million contingency fund and allowing the school board to use $962,320 in Social Security and retirement-related funds that had been tied to raises for program improvements.
The council also voted to move from fiscal 1994 to fiscal 1993 $2.3 million for planning a new high school in the western part of the county and to add $1 million for systemwide school renovations to the fiscal 1992 capital budget.
Michael E. Hickey, superintendent of schools, said he was pleased that the council restored money for programs but had hoped that they would find a way to pay for step increases for teachers.
"We will be the only school system in the state where employees do not get an increment," he said.