Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden says he will match the money saved by furloughing employees for five days with equally large cuts in spending on government services.
The combination of cuts will save the $23.5 million the county needs to offset another round of reductions in state aid proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer.
Hayden said yesterday that he will make specific decisions on cutting services by the end of the week. Budget Director Fred Homan said the cuts in spending on services will come from a list of possibilities submitted earlier by department heads.
Hayden said he decided to announce the furloughs yesterday, instead of waiting for the General Assembly to act on Schaefer's proposal, because "we at least have to put it in our people's minds. We cannot wait until the legislature takes action. It makes sense to do it today."
Hayden said he and all his department heads will lose five days of pay, too.
School Superintendent Robert Y. Dubel wasn't giving in so easily, however.
Hayden said $7.8 million worth of the cuts would be in the education budget, but Dubel did not immediately translate that into furloughs for teachers.
"I'm still very hopeful that . . . something can be done about it," Dubel said. While Hayden may not be willing to wait for the legislature to act, Dubel said, "I can wait."
While Hayden can cut the school budget, only the school board can decide where to cut the money. The school board has more options than the rest of the county government because it can decide simply not to pay teachers for five days of the six-day spring vacation in April. By that time, the legislature will have acted.
Fraternal Order of Police President L. Timothy Caslin said yesterday that he will file a grievance with the county labor commissioner in an effort to forestall the furloughs for his members, claiming that the county's contract with police union prohibits them.
However, Merreen E. Kelly, the county administrative officer, denied that the contract prohibits furloughs.
If the legislature raises state taxes, or deflects the cuts away from local government, the reduction cut would not occur, and the furlough days may not be needed. If that happens, Hayden said, "You can always retrace your steps."
For most employees, the furloughs will take the form of unpaid holidays. They will take place Feb. 12, Lincoln's Birthday; Feb. 17, President's Day; March 25, Maryland Day; April 17, Good Friday; and May 25, Memorial Day.
Two of those days -- Feb. 17 and May 25 -- are already county government holidays, and the other three are state holidays.
The fire and police departments, which operate on holidays, will have to adopt their own schedules to carry out the furloughs. However, workers will lose no more than one day's pay a month to minimize the impact, Hayden said.
Hayden asked the three community colleges, whose employees have already had three days of furloughs, to impose two more days.
The county executive said he thinks the recession, which has eroded tax revenues, will end by late spring. But it's not something he can afford to bet his budget on, he told a group of highway and utility contractors who met with him to ask for more county spending on road, sewer and water projects.
A spokesman for the 65-member contractors group told Hayden that county spending on infrastructure has dropped by 70 percent since 1990. That drop, along with the effects of the recession on private industry jobs, has forced them to lay off 40 percent of their workers, they said.
Hayden made no promises to spend more bond money on capital projects.