Layoffs, rainy day fund proposals loom as budget process enters nitty-gritty

May 26, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

An article in yesterday's paper reported that the County Council auditor's recommendations are to be announced at 10 a.m. The time has been changed to 1 p.m. so that council members can attend the Naval Academy graduation today.

The County Council, which likes to take its time making decisions, has four days left to make a key decision this week -- how much money to spend for county programs and services next year.

The council, which is scheduled to reach a final budget BTC agreement Friday, can only cut the $634 million budget proposed May 1 by County Executive Robert R. Neall.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

This week is expected to be a key time in the give-and-take that traditionally goes on between the executive and the council.

Council Auditor Joseph Novotny's recommendations on Neall's spending plan, a key step in the process, are scheduled to be announced at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The administration's response to that report is expected to last all day Wednesday.

Although the seven-member group cannot add money, except in education spending, it can use its influence to persuade Neall to submit a supplemental budget and to restore popular programs he may have originally cut.

Based on three weeks of council meetings and public hearings on the budget, county officials say these are the key issues that have emerged:

* Neall's proposal to lay off 38 workers and trim from the county payroll the jobs of another 50 workers whose positions will be taken over by private sector firms. County employees have lobbied to restore the jobs, picketing outside the Arundel Center on the night of a public hearing and flooding their council members with calls.

* Setting up a $10 million rainy day fund, as a hedge against future state budget cuts, by using one-time revenue from taxes generated by the start-up of a second unit at Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s Brandon Shores Power Plant.

Neall has said if the fund is approved by the council he wants it to grow each year to a point where $20 million is put aside in three years.

Proponents of the plan include state Sen. Jack Cade, who warned the council last week that future state aid cuts are a possibility and said that Neall should try to put aside as much as $30 million.

* The plan to trim roughly $45,000 from the acclaimed Battered Spouse Shelter program, which provides counseling and emergency housing to women who have been the victims of domestic violence. The council was besieged at public hearings this month to restore the money, which shelter advocates say is needed to continue operating.

* Saving $330,000 by killing the 15-year-old Careers Center in Crownsville. The program, which offers training and educational services to about 100 youths a year referred to it by the juvenile courts, has won praise from juvenile authorities statewide.

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