Average Citizen Unlikely To Feel County Budget Cuts Much

November 10, 1991|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

COUNTY BUDGET CUTS — the most publicized local effect of the recession -- are, perhaps, the least likely to affect citizens.

Only three Detention Center guards, six Health Department and three upper-management employees havelost their jobs -- which means no fewer teachers, cops on the beat, firefighters, librarians or road workers. Certainly those 11,000 county workers who have accepted pay cuts or furloughs will feel something. But if county budget officials are taken at their word, the average person on the street should notice little, if any, difference.

The most publicized part of the cuts -- employee wage concessions-- accounts for only one-third of the total $20.8 million reduction.Hiring freezes and deferred contractual services add up to another $5.9 million. County Executive Robert R. Neall's proposed streamliningof the executive branch would save $250,000.

The rest, $8 million, is slated to be taken from the non-personnel side of the budget, which provides those services, from trash collection to road paving to library books, that are a part of daily life.

But if county budgetofficials have done their job right -- and they believe they have --Anne Arundel residents will barely notice that the budget has been cut, County Budget Officer Steve Welkos said.

Other than the Board of Education's proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board cut in supplies and materials -- which school officials said they believe they can handle with little ill effect -- few of the reductions involve items that most citizens care about.

What people see in terms of fireand police protection, trash pickup, road upkeep and the like shouldremain essentially unchanged.

"There's not a tremendous effect onthe general citizen," Welkos said. "We're not filling a lot of positions, and that could affect the speed of what you get."

In cuttingthe non-personnel portion of the budget, here are some of the thingscounty officials decided Anne Arundel could live without, at least until June 30:

* $500,000 in supplies and materials, including roadrepair material. If you note, in the coming months, that potholes aren't being patched as quickly as they once were, this is why, Welkos said.

* $765,000 worth of equipment, mostly large vehicles. Publicworks will do without a new roller for paving. The Fire Department will wait to replace three ambulances, two brush trucks and radios forseveral engines.

The old equipment is safe, Welkos assured. "If it was to the point where we couldn't utilize them, we wouldn't be doing this," he said. "This is a situation where we feel we can get by for another year."

Officials had briefly considered not replacing 33 police cars but decided it wasn't worth the risk.

* $1.2 millionin pay-as-you-go money, current revenues used to fund capital projects. Fourteen projects have been held for a year.

These include twonew projects: a $100,000 septic assistance loan program, designed tohelp lower-income residents finance repair of failing septic systems, and a $50,000 "neighborhood traffic control program," to help communities pay for speed bumps and other traffic safety measures.

Alsoslashed was $50,000 worth of renovations to the Whitmore Parking Garage, across the street from the Arundel Center county offices in Annapolis, and $50,000 for roof replacements to county buildings.

* About $300,000 in Community Promotions Grants for art and cultural programs. Organizations that will get less money than they'd hoped include Maryland Hall, which stands to lose $35,000; Legal Aid, $20,000; the Teachers Scholarship Program, $30,000; and Helping Hand homeless shelter, $12,500.

* $100,000 in beautification and environmental grants for individual communities.

* $100,000 for employee take-home vehicles. Seventy-five cars now assigned to individuals, mostly administrative workers, will be put out of action or used for car pooling.

NOTE: SEE ALSO MAIN STORY (A pickpocket recession steals from the wallets of many)

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