Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden said today he has delayed starting a new class of police recruits, and may cancel it, and has ordered a 3 percent across-the-board budget cut for all departments except education to deal with state budget cuts and income reductions.
In a special "State of the County" speech today, Hayden said there will be no layoffs of county workers through June 30, 1992, unless a new round of state budget cuts to counties is adopted.
He said that if Gov. William Donald Schaefer signs a new law giving him the power to cut the school budget, ". . . I will use it."
The executive said the county's income and real estate tax revenues are down by $9 million, making a total projected deficit of $27 million, not counting the $3.2 million in state cuts to school aid and the $7.4 million cut from community colleges.
Baltimore County is in better shape to handle cuts than some counties because there was an $11 million surplus at the end of the fiscal year June 30. The executive and council cut 3 cents off the property tax rate, dropping it to $2.865, and have the lowest assessment increase cap in the state, 4 percent.
But although Hayden noted the $11 million surplus, he refused to say under questioning that he would use all of that money to compensate for the cuts.
He said a job freeze that has left 300 county jobs vacant has saved another $5.8 million, but added that the remaining $10 million shortfall "will have to be taken care of through cuts in department budgets, the specifics of which have not yet been decided."
Hayden said he has delayed the November start of a police recruit class intended to help fill the 40 vacancies now on the 1,581 officer force. He added that he may cancel the class, but said no reduction in street patrols would occur, because he will put plainclothes and desk officers out on the streets.
The fire department has only three vacancies, and has no recruit class scheduled.
The county executive said his administration has been looking for even the smallest savings, such as elimination of time and weather report capability from county government telephones, which will save $15,000. He said he is looking at concentrating snow removal on main roadways and leaving side streets unplowed longer.
Hayden said he has asked state officials to loosen some state mandates on the county, which are costing millions. One example is the mandated replacement of school buses after 12 years of use. Hayden said these buses often are bought by churches and private schools and used for years more.
Relaxing state mandates requiring capping of landfills and recycling would allow the counties to delay some expenses in these difficult times, he said.
Hayden also said he is cutting down on capital projects and delaying bond sales to help reduce the interest the county must pay on bonds from its $1 billion operating budget.