County could lose $2.7 million to state budget cuts Officials say reduction won't jeopardize 'rainy day' fund

July 16, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

County officials learned yesterday Anne Arundel could lose $2.7 million in the latest round of state budget cuts, a reduction that should have a minimal effect on government operations.

"We will be able to absorb the bulk of cuts by shifting around some funds," said Louise Hayman, spokeswoman for County Executive Robert R. Neall. "We're not going to have to dip into our [$10 million] 'rainy day' fund."

Maryland Deputy Budget Secretary Frederick W. Puddester announced yesterday the state would be seeking approval from the Board of Public Works to trim $60 million from its 1992-1993 budget. The cuts are necessary to make up for the state's revenue shortfalls for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Of the $60 million sought in reductions, $40 million would be aid to local governments. The county's share of the $40 million would be $2.7 million.

"We're going to the board with a $60 million reduction for fiscal year '93 that we hope will address the '92 shortfall," Mr. Puddester said. "This should get us even with '92. If we find revenues don't increase, then we'll have to address '93 at a later date."

Mr. Neall tried to prepare for the anticipated additional cuts by working a $10 million "rainy day" fund into next year's budget. Last year, the state reduced aid to the county by $20 million.

Maryland began fiscal year 1993 July 1 with a deficit of $240 million.

Legislators last week began warning local county governments to brace for another round of state cuts after it became clear Maryland had overestimated the amount of tax revenues it would receive.

State officials had anticipated tax revenues would be 6 percent higher than last year. But Mr. Schaefer said last week he believed the estimate was incorrect and the state could expect no better than 4 percent growth.

County officials have said they believe 4 percent is still too much to expect this year.

Under the state's current proposal, the county stands to lose:

* $736,181 in funding for local health programs;

* $787,715 in funding for public safety;

* $829,565 in funding for community colleges;

* $305,122 in funding for non-mandated education programs.

The non-mandated education programs facing cuts include Maryland's Tomorrow, the state's heralded program to aid children at-risk for dropping out of school; the External Diploma Program, which provides training and education for adults, and the Schools for Success program, which provides grants to schools.

Ms. Hayman said she did not know how the county's school system would handle this latest round of cuts. The reductions are not expected to result in any layoffs for county employees, she added.

Newly appointed school Superintendent C. Berry Carter II was unavailable for comment.

The reduction for community colleges will not hurt the county, since officials, anticipating additional cuts, had not budgeted the money in the first place, Ms. Hayman said.

New health programs, which were expected to be paid for from proposed health grants, may have to be pushed back, Ms. Hayman added.

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