Auditor finds plenty to cut from budget Advises slashing everything from fire stations to arts

May 28, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

County lawmakers ought to slash County Executive Robert R. Neall's $634 million budget, cutting money for everything from fire stations to two new community college buildings to grants for arts groups, the County Council's auditor said yesterday.

Auditor Joseph H. Novotny, whose proposals serve as an annual spending guideline to the council, said Neall's budget calls for hiring too many new workers and contains too many frills and new construction projects while at the same time laying off 38 workers and trimming 50 vacant jobs from the county payroll.

"This is my annual exercise to be the most hated man in the county," Novotny told the council as he sat down to make his presentation.

While he did not give a recommendation for total spending in fiscal 1993, the specifics contained in his 61-page report prove Novotny right.

Novotny said the county should eliminate $240,000 for community arts organizations and $400,000 in grants to social service organizations. The latter should be cut because Neall has yet to decide how much individual service groups would be awarded, he said.

He also recommended that five positions be trimmed from the Sheriff's Department (four security officers and a management assistant) for a $158,000 savings.

He added that executive assistants for Neall's staff and for the staff of Chief Administrative Officer Dennis Parkinson, slated to earn $77,300 and $75,100 respectively, should not be hired.

Novotny also said the county could save $127,000 by canceling plans to buy four new vans to replace Department of Aging vehicles and by trimming $25,000 from the salary of the health officer.

The most drastic cuts were recommended in the proposed $96 million capital budget, which details funding for all new construction projects. They included:

* Deleting $6.4 million to build new fire stations in Crownsville and Ridgeway and cutting $3 million for a future Eastern District police station.

* Cutting $16 million that would be spent over the next four years on two new buildings of a new, western section of the Anne Arundel Community College campus.

* Deleting money to expand the county detention center on Jennifer Road near Annapolis and to build a new jail on Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie.

Novotny told the council that state money for such projects is drying up and that the county can't afford to pay for them.

He also blasted the Neall administration for putting too many repair and maintenance projects into the capital budget and proposing to pay for them with money from bond sales, rather than putting them in the operating budget where they belong.

Novotny also said county budget analysts often under-estimate the cost for projects to make them more attractive, adding that many projects approved by the council in the five-year capital plan go for years without being built.

"Right now, we have $250 million already approved that's waiting to be spent," he said. "It's a $250 million backlog, as I call it."

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