How the locals confront the ax

September 29, 1992

Unlike Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening, none of the Baltimore metropolitan area leaders drew a defiant line in the sand against the state's plan to cut them by $150 million. They are very much unified in opposition, however, to the waiting game they're forced into by Gov. William Donald Schaefer's response to the state's fiscal crisis. Here's what they face:

* ANNE ARUNDEL: Executive Robert R. Neall may be the only politician who can't keep from smiling in all this. A career cost-cutter in his previous life as a state delegate, Mr. Neall anticipated the shortfall so well that he doesn't even plan to dip into a $10 million "rainy day fund" he set up.

* BALTIMORE CITY: The cuts are likely to force the city to raise its piggyback income tax. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke had earlier argued that raising that tax would be counter-productive to the city's need to retain its middle-class; city homeowners already pay double the property tax rate of any other jurisdiction in Maryland. Baltimore's situation is further aggravated by a federal judge's order that the city make up lost pay to thousands of briefly furloughed employees. If upheld, the decision might cost the city up to $7.6 million.

* BALTIMORE COUNTY: Executive Roger B. Hayden expects his share of the state shortfall to approach $30 million and is asking department heads to cut even deeper than they did a year ago, when some meat -- such as police and fire-fighting positions -- was trimmed with the fat. Other executives may ask their respective delegations to plead their cases in Annapolis, but that's an option unavailable to Mr. Hayden. Last winter, Baltimore County's legislators made themselves conspicuous by their vocal opposition to the tax increases included in the eventual state budget.

* CARROLL: Carroll's commissioners expect about $5 million in cuts and may have to start paring grants to external organizations such as the community college, library and Volunteer Firemen's Association.

* HARFORD: Facing a $6 million cut in state aid, Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann warned the governor against month-to-month crisis management. Harford echoed the resentments of some other counties about Baltimore City's insulation from further cutbacks: the city's community college and jail were taken over by the state under the Schaefer regime.

* HOWARD: Howard may have to absorb reductions ranging from $6.5 million to $9 million.

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