Panel Offers New Venue For Comment On Budget

May 16, 1991|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,Staff writer

Taxpayers will find a new venue to sound off about the county budgetin September, when the Spending Affordability Committee sponsors three meetings for public comment.

The panel, created by voters last year to determine how much government they can pay for, decided Tuesday night to expand the scope of its review.

"We're going to ask the public and citizens as a whole to tell uswhat they think about what we we should be doing, and spending affordability, and anything else they want to tell us," committee chairmanBennett Shaver said yesterday.

The seven-member group will meet the first and third Thursday of every month beginning in June and continuing through October.

The public meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Arundel Center in Annapolis.

The first meeting, June 4, is tentatively scheduled to considerthe county's capital budget, which County Executive Robert R. Neall has proposed for $95.7 million.

In no particular order, the committee will also devote separate meetings to examine the semi-independent Board of Education and Department of Utilities, pay-as-you-go construction programs and the rainy-dayfund Neall plans to propose next month.

Three public forums will be scheduled in September, probably one each in North, Central and South County, Shaver said.

The committee might reconsider the spending affordability formula it reported in March, which determined that taxpayers could support a $633 million budget for fiscal 1992.

Neall's proposed $616.6 million budget is down $800,000 from 1991 spending, but includes an $11.6 million increase for the school system.

His general spending proposal of $574.9 million is $12.8 million lessthan the projections of the committee, which recommended limiting general spending to 5.5 percent of total personal income.

Neall wants to maintain the property tax rate at $2.46 per $100 of assessed value, despite a $422.8 million increase in revenue fueled by rising assessments and new construction.

Neall also proposes using $5 million for pay-as-you-go construction projects this year. He said the county cannot afford the $9.5 million limit the panel recommends.

The 1991 budget included $16.1 million to pay the full cost of construction projects.

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