Schmoke orders second round of budget cutting City braces for state to slash another $8 million to $9 million

October 24, 1991|By Martin C. Evans C. Fraser Smith and Dennis O'Brien of The Sun's metropolitan staff contributed to this article.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has ordered city agencies to make even deeper cuts in spending because he is expecting an additional reduction of $8 million to $9 million in state aid to the city.

"People are going to be affected by this, personnel will be affected," Mr. Schmoke said yesterday. "I think it's pretty certain that we're going to get hit by a second round."

Although the mayor did not give a complete rundown of agencies that have been asked to further tighten their belts, he forecast cuts in the budgets of once-untouchable agencies such as the Police Department, the Fire Department and the school system.

The mayor said he was warned by Gov. William Donald Schaefer that slower-than-expected growth in state sales and income tax revenues could force the governor to cut even more from the state budget than the $450 million announced in early October.

At a meeting of the state Board of Public Works in Annapolis yesterday, Governor Schaefer again urged Marylanders to prepare for yet another round of budget cutting in the current fiscal year. A spokeswoman for the governor said he has not been calling local officials to prepare them specifically for further cuts in their own budgets. But she said the governor's general warnings are aimed at local government as well.

In Baltimore, City Hall is expecting the worst. Henry Bogdan, the city's liaison in Annapolis, said there are broad indications that income tax and sales tax revenues flowing into the Maryland treasury would fall at least $150 million below earlier projections, forcing the governor to pass on further cuts to local jurisdictions.

In Baltimore County as well, local officials said they are bracing for further cuts in state aid, though they could not say how large the county share might be.

Although Baltimore County so far has not had to lay off any of its 8,000 government workers, County Executive Roger B. Hayden has said he could not promise there will be no layoffs should the state cut further.

"The question is how much are the locals [local subdivisions] going to have to pick up," said Pat Roddy, Mr. Hayden's legislative liaison.

Mr. Schmoke said that while an announcement of any further state cuts would not likely come until December, he is asking his agency chiefs to prepare now so as to soften the blow.

"Nobody is going to be happy about this, but the bottom line is the economy is in the worst shape it has been since the Great Depression," Mr. Schmoke said.

School department budget officials, who scrambled to meet a deadline set for yesterday for plans to make $8.8 million in cuts, were told to shave another $1.2 million off the city education budget.

Mr. Schmoke said the Police Department, which has already been ordered to cut $3 million from its budget, would have to give up another $1.1 million.

The mayor said the additional cuts would not result in layoffs of police officers. There could, however, be a hiring freeze, meaning that the number of unfilled positions in the department -- which already has more than 100 vacancies -- will likely increase.

Fire officials, also under orders to cut $3 million, were told last week that an additional $500,000 would have to come from their budget.

The Fire Department has already submitted a budget plan that could mean hundreds of layoffs and the closing of at least eight firehouses.

In all, Mr. Schmoke is expected next week to detail plans to pare as much as $35 million from the city's $1.79 billion operating budget.

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