Ecker forecasts a tight county budget

December 10, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

County Executive Charles I. Ecker will ask for help tonight i finding ways to save the county money.

The 7:30 p.m. budget hearing in the county office building is usually the setting for residents and civic leaders to tell the executive what projects they want him to include in the coming fiscal year's budget.

That custom will continue tonight, but Mr. Ecker will first tell residents that he doesn't foresee the economy turning around as far as county government is concerned.

"This may be the county's most difficult year yet," he said yesterday.

"We have two new schools, two new libraries, a police and fire department substation coming on line, and are expanding the detention center," he said. "All have to be staffed."

In addition, the county will have to pick up $7 million in Social Security payments for school employees, Mr. Ecker said.

Until this year, the Social Security payments were included in state aid to the county.

The county has $20 million in new needs but lacks the money to pay them, Mr. Ecker said.

Howard also is confronted with an $8 million cut in this year's budget, including a $6.4 million cut in state aid for Social Security payments.

Mr. Ecker said the county would pick up $3.4 million of that bill, and the school system will absorb the remainder.

He plans to reduce the county portion of the budget by $2 million, increase Health Department aid by $200,000 and reduce subsidies to the community college by $300,000.

Helping offset the deficit, he said, is $2.3 million in unanticipated revenue from property and local income taxes.

Those two revenue sources have performed better than anticipated, Mr. Ecker said.

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