Baltimore County halts spending on capital projects

November 08, 1991|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

The Hayden administration has temporarily frozen spending for any new capital projects as part of Baltimore County's effort to save money and get through the recession.

County Administrative Officer Merreen E. Kelley issued the order on Oct. 30, but County Executive Roger B. Hayden today said he will review all pending capital projects by Nov. 30 and will approve funding for any that have a large impact.

Budget Director Fred Homan said the move came after he determined that county departments are already under contract to spend $46 million to $48 million on capital projects. The commitments are projected to eat up all the county's cash before June 30, 1992.

Funding additional projects would force the county to sell more bonds, which would defeat Hayden's plan to save $8 million to $10 million on bond interest by delaying new bond sales until January 1993.

That delay is part of Hayden's plan to cope with a $28 million deficit in the county budget caused by state cuts and a $9 million drop in county revenue due to the recession.

Homan said he will review the cash flow situation in January, to see if the money is really being spent as fast as October projections showed. If not, the prohibition on new spending could be lifted.

Public Works Director Gene Neff said private builders' projects that require county construction of roads or underground utilities could also be delayed under the spending ban.

Hayden said, however, that he will not hold up large private developments by refusing to pay for publicly financed infrastructure.

Larry Macks, former president of the Baltimore County chapter of the Homebuilders Association of Maryland, said, "I think that they will work it out." He said public expenses on private developers' projects involve a minor amount of money, especially compared with what the county gets back in real estate and property taxes on the completed buildings.

Hayden said that the suspension of capital spending is "not going to have a major effect."

Neff said the only specific public project he could think of that might be delayed is the rebuilding and addition to the 1920s-era, one-bay county firehouse in the 7200 block of Windsor Mill Road in Woodlawn.

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