Baltimore County officials stepped up the heat on the U.S. General Services Administration today, announcing a coalition that will lobby GSA to keep the Health Care Financing Administration and its 3,000 jobs in Woodlawn.
County Executive Roger B. Hayden, Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2d., and leaders of business groups and the union representing HCFA workers said they are trying to keep HCFA from moving into the city. They say city officials such as Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.-3d. are pushing for the city -- although Mrs. Bentley acknowledged she has used her position on the House subcommittee that oversees GSA to lobby for Woodlawn.
"If the county should lose HCFA -- and we won't let that happen -- the rest of the Social Security Administration could eventually go downtown," Mrs. Bentley said. HCFA, which oversees the Medicare and Medicaid programs, is not technically part of the Social Security Administration, but like Social Security is headquartered in Woodlawn.
GSA is considering two sites in Woodlawn and a third site in Baltimore for HCFA's headquarters. HCFA is now spread out among several Woodlawn buildings and wants to consolidate. A decision is expected this summer.
John Gage, president of Local 1923 of the American Federation of Government Workers, said 93 percent of HCFA employees surveyed prefer to keep the agency in Woodlawn, rather than move to a site near Oriole Park at Camden Yards that is being proposed by a partnership of the Rouse Co., Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. and Baltimore developer Daniel P. Henson III.
Mr. Gage added that downtown day care would be a problem for workers who live near the current headquarters. Mothers of school-aged children wouldn't be able to get their offspring from school to day care near the office, and mothers of pre-schoolers who use downtown day care might have to commute on mass transit with children.
Mr. Gage said HCFA workers are planning a March 13 rally at the current headquarters to pressure GSA to keep them in the suburbs.
City officials couldn't be reached this morning to respond to comments made at the press conference at Mrs. Bentley's Towson office.
The press conference announced a coalition of county political, business and union leaders who will try to keep HCFA in Woodlawn.
Mr. Hayden said the county has committed up to $2 million to improve infrastructure serving the location of any county site that GSA picks as HCFA's headquarters.