Regional Council Shake-up Ok'd

March 04, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff writer

A state Senate committee yesterday approved a plan sought by County Executive Robert R. Neall to reorganize the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments, possibly eliminating the agency's 31 jobs.

The Senate Budget and Tax Committee yesterday voted to kill state subsidies next year for the council. It's the first step in a reorganization effort Neall and other officials say is intended to make the agency more responsive.

The reorganization also has the backing of Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and the executives of Harford, Howard and Baltimore counties.

Dennis H. Parkinson, Neall's chief administrative officer, saidthe executives feel the council, created in 1963 as the Regional Planning Council, fell short as a tool for regional planning, for savingmoney and for finding solutions to issues such as recycling, shrinking landfill space and joint purchase agreements.

"It was non-responsive to the executives of the region," Parkinson said. "It had a life of its own, a mind of its own and it would go off on its own, regardless of what the executives wanted done."

He said a series of bills backed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer in the General Assembly call for the council to be abolished June 30 and replaced by a new Baltimore Metropolitan Council.

Parkinson said that regional jurisdictions will continue to pay a total of $400,000 to subsidize the agency,but that the reorganization means the state will no longer have to kick in $750,000 annually.

The council will be operated by the six jurisdictions in the Baltimore area: Baltimore City, Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford, Howard and Carroll counties. It will be ruled by a governing board consisting of one official appointed by executives from each jurisdiction, rather than by the current three representatives from each.

The council staff will be "as small as practical," and will include one executive director, one financial analyst and someclerical staff, Parkinson said.

He said yesterday's vote means most the council's 31 employees will be out of work June 30.

But he said of those 31 employees, 12 who handle transportation issues and are paid with federal money will probably be transferred to the state Department of Transportation. Five who handle housing issues will work for the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

No one yesterday could say whether the rest of the workers -- who are part of the state employee merit system -- will be picked up by otherstate agencies.

"As far as we know, we haven't been promised anything," said Dunbar Brooks, a demographer and principal planner with the council since 1975.

Brooks said that employees at the council'soffices, at 601 N. Howard St., spent time yesterday in job placementseminars, filing applications to work at other agencies and attending briefings on health and severance rights.

"Everyone's trying to get with another agency now," he said.

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