911 Center Agrees To Bear Bigger Cut In Its Spending

Department 'Owed' Executive For Earlier Hirings

December 29, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,SUN STAFF

When Harford's 911 center desperately needed to hire three more dispatchers earlier this fall, County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann came up with the needed cash.

This month, as the county faces a proposedsecond cut in state aid, 911 center administrators have voluntarily proposed cutting 6 percent of their operating budget to turn back to the county coffers. That's 4 percent more than requested by the executive.

"Mrs. Rehrmann gave us the $81,000 to hire three new dispatchers we desperately needed when that money wasn't in our budget," said James M. Terrell, director of emergency services for the county.

"Hiring those employees really helped us improve the 911 service. So we sat down and butchered our budget, and cut $89,580. We basically gave back the money she gave us for those three people's salaries. We feltlike we owed it to her."

Terrell and other county department chiefs were told to cut at least 2 percent from their current operating expenses without compromising services.

By cutting 6 percent from its budget, the emergency services department would do without new radio equipment and a new computer program that would show dispatchers maps of the block from which an emergency call was placed, Terrell said.

"Some departments won't be able to do 2 percent; others will beable to do more," Klimovitz said.

"These proposals aren't final. I may tell them not to make certain cuts. I'm not looking for short-term solutions that may cost us more next year. I'm looking for long-term solutions because this is a long-term problem."

Gov. William Donald Schaefer, using his discretionary powers, has already cut $3.2 million in direct state aid to Harford County in an effort to reduce a projected state deficit, and the county has lost about another $3.2million in other state aid. Schaefer has asked the legislature to approve more cuts when it begins its next session in January, includinganother $5 million cut in state aid to Harford.

George Harrison, spokesman for Rehrmann, said the request for 2 percent cuts should net about $3 million in savings from the current operating budget.

That $3 million, combined with $4 million of the county's $9.4 millionsurplus, should help offset the effect of state aid cuts, Harrison said.

"They told us the job we save may be our own," Terrell said.

Keeping that in mind, William T. Baker Jr., director of public works, said he, too, has trimmed expenses. Baker's proposed cuts include:

* $83,800 from DPW's general operating budget; cuts include training and travel costs.

* $264,400 from the highway fund, cuts madeby delaying the purchase of materials and better maintenance of equipment for reduced vehicle repair costs.

* $182,000 from the water and sewer fund, savings the county will realize by not purchasing water from the city of Havre de Grace or private utilities.

"We've scrimped and scraped. We'll do everything we can to save the jobs," Baker said.

"We won't be buying as much asphalt. We're hoping we won't be spending as much on other materials. We have not changed or deferred any capital projects, however."

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