ANNAPOLIS -- The Anne Arundel County Council adopted a $637 million budget last night that lays off 81 county workers, sets up a $10 million rainy day fund, maintains the current tax rate, but raises spending by 6.5 percent -- or $39 million.
Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall's budget sets the tax rate at $2.46 per $100 of assessed value. It means, however, that the average homeowner will pay about $100 more a year because of increased assessments.
The budget, worked out after six hours of public discussion and private negotiations between Mr. Neall and the council, will lay off 81 county utility and clerical workers. This was seen as a first step in Mr. Neall's effort to shrink the size of the county's 4,000-member work force over the next three years.
The budget includes a $6 million classroom building to handle enrollment increases expected at Anne Arundel Community VTC College and calls for hiring 98 more teachers to keep class sizes at current levels for the county's 66,000-pupil school system.
Council members voted for a $1.8 million property tax credit program that will mean tax breaks for some of the county's neediest citizens, raising a wide range of fees and occupational licenses to pay for it.
Electricians, plumbers, pipefitters and those in sales pay more to do business under the new fee formula adopted last night.
The budget also sets aside $100,000 to pay for a study of the county's jail needs, sets aside money for a 200-bed addition to the jail outside Annapolis and calls for spending $90 million over the next five years for construction of a new jail in Glen Burnie. But all future jail construction moneys are budgeted in the county's legislative budget, which means that the projects must still be approved by the council before they can proceed.
County councils in Baltimore and Howard counties last week approved $1.08 billion and $270 million budgets respectively that hold the line on spending. But Baltimore County was joined by Prince George's County in raising the piggyback rate to fund increases in education and maintain other county services. Howard County officials said the piggyback tax proposal may be an option next year if revenues don't pick up.