Baltimore lists likely cuts in services Loss of $21 million in state aid blamed

October 08, 1991|By Ginger Thompson John Rivera of The Sun's metropolitan staff contributed to this article.

Laying out the impact of proposed cutbacks in state aid, the Schmoke administration said yesterday that the city would have to abandon a range of key services -- from school health nursing to restaurant inspections to air and water pollution monitoring -- unless the General Assembly steps into the Maryland budget crisis.

"None of the news is good," said City Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi, D-6th, chairman of the City Council's Budget and Appropriations Committee. "We find ourselves in quicksand. These cuts run the gamut."

The extent of the proposed cuts was contained in a seven-page memorandum and delivered at a briefing to the City Council last night.

Last week, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke forecast that the city would be facing a "tragedy" if it had to accommodate the $21 million cutback in state aid that would be necessary under Gov. William Donald Schaefer's plan to meet the fiscal crisis by slashing $450 million in state spending.

Yesterday, Schmoke administration officials gave more details on what city services would be affected if the General Assembly did not reverse the governor's cutbacks.

For starters, every city agency -- including the police and fire departments -- would be forced to cut its budget by 6.5 percent for this fiscal year, Budget Director Edward J. Gallagher said. He said the city department heads are preparing plans and will present revised budgets to Mayor Schmoke within a couple weeks.

"Programs which the City Council has always held sacred from budget cuts -- such as public safety -- are not being held sacred by the state," said Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge, D-2nd.

The state cuts would also force a $1.7 million cut in the city's education budget -- mostly from its prekindergarten program for at-risk students and its program for subsidized meals. The elderly poor will also face cuts in housing, transportation and nutrition programs.

Some state-financed welfare grants would be eliminated by January and nearly $1 million would be cut from the city's program to train welfare parents for jobs.

Other cuts would include:

* $1.5 million from school nursing services. An estimated 103 jobs would be eliminated.

* More than $300,000 from the agency that performs restaurant and food inspections. All 19 inspectors would lose their jobs.

"That way, if you go to eat at a restaurant -- well, I wouldn't advise you to eat in a restaurant," said Elias Dorsey, the acting commissioner of the city Health Department, at a public hearing last night at the War Memorial Building.

* About $115,000 from air quality monitoring. Another $229,000 cut would eliminate the agency that monitors water quality in such public facilities as swimming pools and spas.

* The Enoch Pratt Library System faces a loss of $1.2 million that Mr. Gallagher said would force the library to close a "significant" number of branches.

* About $2.7 million from alcohol and drug treatment centers and halfway houses, eliminating 315 patient beds at centers such as the Liberty Medical Center, the Baltimore Recovery Center Detox and the Friendship Safe House.

After hearing the details of the cuts, City Council members and state legislators discussed plans for lobbying the General Assembly to vote to meet in an emergency session and pass a plan to raise taxes -- even if only temporarily, until the crisis passes.

"We need to recharge the battery and then when the battery is charged we can take it off," said Mary Pat Clark, City Council president.

She and other council members also proposed a restructuring of the state tax systems so that the city would reap benefits from people who work in the city but live in the suburbs.

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