State's drug commission takes cost-cutting moves Dr. Solomon's measures are to save $160,000.

November 19, 1991|By Sue Miller | Sue Miller,Evening Sun Staff

No more car phones and no more reimbursable mileage for staff and no more food -- just coffee, juice and water -- at meetings of the Governor's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission.

And, that's not all, says Dr. Neil Solomon, the panel's newly appointed chairman, who announced voluntary measures yesterday to streamline the commission's operation and save fiscally strapped Maryland more than $160,000.

Commissioners and ad hoc committee members will be asked to give up their travel allowances whenever possible. Formal commission meetings will be held at state facilities to eliminate expensive rentals at private facilities. And two staff positions -- one in public relations and another in administration -- will be axed, Solomon said.

"I will be the only person with a car phone, and I will pay for it myself," said Solomon, a physician in private practice who served as secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 1969 to 1979. "The idea is to cut administrative costs while preserving funds for people programs."

Solomon said his cost-containment measures, which take effect immediately, will save the state about $60,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year ending June 30, and more than $100,000 during the fiscal year that will end June 30, 1993.

Neither Solomon nor the 53 citizen members of the commission are paid any salary. Solomon said he is not seeking reimbursement for any commission-related expenses.

"The commission will operate differently -- with greater efficiency -- and will continue to meet the governor's mandate to reduce drug and alcohol abuse in the state," he said.

At the governor's request, Solomon has reorganized the commission by increasing the citizen membership from five to 25 and the total membership from 21 to 53 -- including 17 female and 16 minority members.

He has promised to try "to take back the city's streets that have been taken over by criminal elements of the drug lords." But, this will take funds and a change in state and national priorities, he has warned.

The panel will evaluate drug and alcohol programs throughout the state, take what is good and incorporate it in other programs "and close down the bad," Solomon has said.

He wants to get some of the federal money that goes overseas returned to Maryland so it can be used for alcohol and drug abuse prevention, education, jobs, treatment and health.

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