Report rips regional council Research agency called 'superfluous'

November 22, 1991|By Ann LoLordo and Tom Bowman Sandy Banisky of The Sun's metropolitan staff contributed to this report.

The Baltimore Regional Council of Governments, which for nearly 30 years has offered research and technical assistance to local governments, is ineffective and should be "downsized" to a forum of local elected officials to discuss mutual concerns, according to a report.

The council "is not perceived as being an effective instrument" for bringing about regional cooperation in the Baltimore Metropolitan area, said the summary of the 111-page report, completed by the Schaefer Center for Public Policy at the University of Baltimore under contract with the Maryland Office of Planning.

The council, formed in 1963 by the General Assembly, has a staff of about 46 and a $10 million budget from federal, state and local funds. It serves the city and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.

In the report, completed last month and based on interviews with local officials and analysis, the council of governments was viewed as "generally superfluous and largely ineffective in its present state."

The report also said that BRCOG has a history of poor financial management and that there was repeated criticism of the

council's leadership. Still, local officials did say that certain council activities such as economic and demographic forecasting and environmental and transportation planning are important to the region.

"We have to redefine what their mission is," said Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker. "I think they have strayed away from their original intent. I think they really do have a role to play in providing regional help and statistics."

Speaking for Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden, Pat Roddy, director of legislative relations for Baltimore County, said county officials have yet to evaluate the entire report.

But Mr. Roddy said that the officials -- including his boss -- were looking at government spending and questioning everything, including the mandated contribution they have to make to the council, which is about $160,000.

BRCOG officials blasted the study.

"We were very disappointed in the quality and character of this study," said Guy W. Hager, executive director, who said the comments about poor financial management were a "distortion."

"I see a lot of finger-pointing, a lot of back-stabbing, a lot of efforts to reconcile one's own budget at the expense of others," said Baltimore City Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge, D-2nd, acting chairman of BRCOG.

Mr. Ambridge said he would propose to the governor today that the council privatize.

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