Regional Council Has Huge Mandate But Shrinking Budget

August 11, 1991|By Staff report

The Baltimore Regional Council of Governments, established by legislation in 1963, is an independent state agency that studies and develops policy on transportation, economic development, housing, land use and environmental and geographic issues.

Council staff has worked with Carroll government on those issues and others, including fire protection, emergency operations and schools planning.

The council develops and operates such programs as reservoir protection, a 911 emergency response system, enhancement of cultural institutions, cooperative purchasing and housing subsidies for those withlow income. It helps coordinate compliance with

the federal CleanAir Act, which will affect commuting patterns and allocation of transportation money.

The stated goal of the six-jurisdiction partnership is "to promote processes for the management of public issues on aregional basis, to secure a commitment to pursue regional goals and to meet regional community needs by providing leadership and active assistance to our member governments in the development of priorities and allocation of resources."

The state cut the council's budget from $480,000 in fiscal 1991 to $250,000 for the budget year that began July 1, according to Executive Director Guy Hager. The cut meant that contributions from local jurisdictions also were reduced, because they are based on

state aid.

BRCOG's operating budget was cut from $3.3 million in fiscal 1991 to $2.6 million in fiscal 1992, resulting in the reduction of 14 staff positions and the elimination of five vacant jobs, said Hager. The agency now has 45 employees.

"We're down to the real bare bones," he said.

The state Office of Planning has contracted with the University of Baltimore's Schaefer Centerfor Public Policy to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the council. Center directors will assess the council's performance and determine whether it has the resources and authority necessary to attain goals and meet the region's needs. The report is expected to be completed in October.

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