Neall May Postpone Submitting 1993 Budget

He Cites Assembly Deadlockfor Delay

April 10, 1992|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

Saying he can't design a budget without knowing how much money he has, County Executive Robert R. Neall is considering delaying introduction of his fiscal 1993 spending plan until after May 1, the date mandated by the county charter.

He said yesterday he doubts he can meet that deadline unless the General Assembly agrees on a state budget,which contains aid to local governments, by the middle of next week.

Delaying the introduction of the local budget is "certainly an option if the legislature doesn't act in timely fashion," he said. "You've got sort of an open switch as long as legislative outcome is in doubt."

County attorneys say Neall can legally send the County Council a note, informing it that his budget will be late. But some council members said they expect him to meet the May 1 deadline no matter what the state does.

"He's got to come in with something," said Councilman George Bachman, a Linthicum Democrat. "He should come in with his best estimate."

"My only only alternative would be to submita budget with some very broad contingencies," Neall countered. "But you don't know how much is enough. You'd have to make some assumptions. And what if you didn't guess right?"

Local jurisdictions typically get about 40 percent of their money from the state. However, hugestate deficits during the last year meant the loss of millions of dollars for local jurisdictions.

How much Anne Arundel and other counties will get in fiscal 1993 depends on whether House and Senate leaders -- now meeting in their first-ever extended session -- agree on a budget. If they do not, Gov. William Donald Schaefer's "doomsday" budget would take effect July 1.

Under that plan, Baltimore and the23 counties would lose $95 million in state aid on top of $250 million in cuts already approved. Anne Arundel would lose $8.5 million from a projected total of $138 million in state aid.

Neall said that he is prepared to absorb the $8.5 million loss without raising property taxes, and that restoring the 3 percent pay cut that he took from 11,000 county workers "would be a top priority."

5l But many fiscal analysts believe that even the doomsday budget is based on unrealistically high revenue forecasts and that state officials may have to ask local governments for more budget cuts in the middle of the next fiscal year, as they did this year.

"That's why I'm proposing a rainy day fund to use as a hedge against what might happen," Neall said."If I use all my discretion, then they come back and cut me, there'snothing left."

The charter prohibits the executive from raising the property tax rate in mid-year.

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