Counties cut spending to meet budgets Report says that three-fourths of Md. counties had budget shortages.

August 29, 1991|By Rick Todhunter | Rick Todhunter,States News Service

WASHINGTON — Most of Maryland's counties are planning to make up for budget shortcomings by cutting their spending, according to a new report.

The National Association of Counties' "County Government Budget Shortfall Report," just released, claims that three-fourths Maryland's counties fell short of their proposed budgets in fiscal year 1991. The report says that of those counties, exactly half will close the budgetary gap by cutting spending.

The association, which studied budget problems in 443 of the nation's largest counties, said that the other half of Maryland's counties experiencing budgetary problems planned to create revenue as well as cut spending to "offset the imbalance."

According to the report, four of every 10 U.S. counties have had budgetary shortfalls every year since 1986, when federal aid to the states under the General Revenue Sharing program was cut off.

The drastic drop in revenue, coupled with rising costs for health care, growth-related services and the war on drugs have created budgetary shortcomings around the nation, according to the report.

Overall, California sustained the most shortfalls, with 74 percent of its counties experiencing budget shortfalls. Maryland and New York both had shortcomings in 73 percent of their counties. At the other end of the spectrum, only 28 percent of Ohio's counties had problems.

The Maryland counties that felt the budget crunch were hurt also by the recession, taking an 8 percent drop in revenues during 1991, the report says.

The fastest-growing counties were hardest hit, with Montgomery, Prince George's and Howard counties feeling the greatest drop in income.

Said Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening, "We ask that federal and state officials not solve societal problems simply by passing on obligations to local governments. And we ask them not to solve their budget problems by cutting funding for local governments."

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