Middle Managers To Bear Brunt Of Cost-cutting Moves

October 27, 1991|By Elise Armacost and Paul Shread | Elise Armacost and Paul Shread,Staff writers

Primus Richardson, the county's emergency management officer for 14 years, learned Friday he was retiring -- after County Executive Robert R. Neall announced his departure at a press conference.

Richardson said he had been told that his position was being abolished, but he knew nothing of his impending retirement until someone called him ahalf-hour after Neall's news conference on the budget crisis. Richardson's post is one of eight being

abolished as part of Neall's plan to reorganize the executive branch.

Asked if he was retiring, Richardson said, "Not that I'm aware of. But if I don't have a job, I guess I have to go."

Neall announced the reorganization as part of a $20.8 million budget-reduction plan that includes $6.7 million in wage cuts. The cuts are needed to cover drastic reductions in state aid.

The executive did have somegood news Friday. He will restore $150,000 of $800,000 cut from drugand alcohol treatment centers, enough to keep those agencies in business through the end of the fiscal year.

Another positive note wasthat the amount of wage concessions needed to balance the budget is less than the 3.6 to 4 percent Neall originally anticipated. He is asking each county employee to accept either a 3-percent wage cut from Dec. 1 to June 30, 1992, the end of the fiscal year, or five furloughdays or unpaid holidays.

A maximum of 322 people -- 122 county workers and 200 education employees -- would lose their jobs if the wage concessions are rejected.

Three top appointees have already losttheir jobs. Besides Richardson, Karen Michalec, executive assistant for human services, and Dan Roper, information services officer, havebeen told to retire as part of Neall's reorganization plan.

In a written statement, Roper said leaving the county was "painful" but that he supported Neall's decision. Michalec said, "I'm comfortable with the decision. These things just happen."

During his press conference, Neall left no doubt he is prepared to make difficult decisions to get Anne Arundel through the budget crisis.

He promised to carry out his restructuring plan with or without County Council support, whether or not it interferes with the County Charter. He vowed to finish fiscal 1992 in the black. And he spelled out exactly how many employees would be laid off if they reject pay cuts:

* The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 582, the largest union with 879 blue-collar employees, must cut $500,800 in wages or suffer 27 layoffs.

* AFSCME Local 2563, which represents 369 clerical and technical workers, must cut $188,300 or lose 12 employees.

* Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 70, with 435 police employees, must cut $334,300 or lose 14 people.

* International Association of Firefighters, Local 1563, has 549 employees; must cut $423,800 or lose 17 workers.

* FOP Lodge 106, which represents 23 workers inthe sheriff's office. Must cut $15,600 or lose one employee.

* Fraternal Order of Anne Arundel County Detention Center Officers and Personnel, 98 employees; must cut $61,500 or lose three workers.

Neall gave union leaders until Nov. 5 to take a stand on wage concessions. On Nov. 14, he must present a new, reduced budget to the County Council.

The county executive will send 789 non-represented employees a ballot to decide whether they will take wage cuts or layoffs. Twenty-four of them would be laid off if they do not accept $725,100 worth of concessions.

Another 627 workers in the exempt services are being asked to make $323,300 worth of wage cuts or face 13 layoffs.

Some 348 contractual workers have been ordered to take pay cuts or be fired with seven days notice. Neall's department heads and top appointees have already been ordered to take a 5 percent pay cut.

TheBoard of Education, with 6,692 employees, is being asked to absorb the lion's share of the wage reductions -- $4.4 million worth -- or risk 200 layoffs. An amendment to the state budget reduction act prevents Neall from laying off classroom teachers, but he says he is prepared to eliminate administrative positions if leaders of school unions do not accept the cuts.

Neall asked for fewer wage concessions than he originally anticipated because he found more savings in the non-personnel side of the budget. Even after cutting $10 million in non-personnel items to meet the first round of state aid reductions, Neallslashed another $3 million in pay-as-you-go money, community promotions grants, take-home vehicles and the executive branch reorganization.

That restructuring will save $250,000 between now and June 30, Neall said, and will yield at least $630,000 in savings every year thereafter.

Under the restructuring, Neall would reduce the number of people who report directly to him and merge the Office of Information Services into the Department of Central Services and the Office ofEmergency Management into the Fire Department.

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