Solution To Fiscal UncertaintyTomorrow, I'll deliver our...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 02, 1993

Solution To Fiscal Uncertainty

Tomorrow, I'll deliver our 1994 budget to the County Council. Before its content is debated, I wish the citizens of Anne Arundel County to know the philosophy behind the budget.

Our 1994 budget is one of response -- response to economic and fiscal reality and response to public opinion. This budget will operate your county government under a new structure better able to adjust to whatever economic conditions we encounter.

This budget was prepared amid the echoes of the public's resounding call for more efficient, less expensive county government, inherent in the adoption of the tax cap last November. Nevertheless, because of cost-savings and consolidations, this budget maintains all critical services.

Yes. Consolidations could be delayed and our work force temporarily maintained at the current level. But avoiding the pain also means avoiding the solution. County government is bigger than it needs to be to provide basic services, and our current and future revenues will no longer support the old, larger structure.

There is no mistaking that citizens value the education of our children above all other concerns. . . . This budget will reflect that. In fiscal year 1994, 60 percent of the county's budget -- the full amount requested by the Board of Education -- will go toward education.

Among other things, we will fund the needs identified by the board in its recent report, "Bridging the Gap." Acknowledging the urgent needs for increased school capacity and maintenance, I have tripled the amount of capital funding for schools. . . .

If the council adopts this budget, we will have arrived at a reasonable and effective solution which will end the fiscal

uncertainty which has challenged us for the past two years.

obert R. Neall

Annapolis

The writer is Anne Arundel County executive.

Demoralization

Once again, we find ourselves opposing County Executive Robert Neall's legislative attempts to reduce and eliminate county employee benefits. Bills 26-93, 27-93 and 34-93 effectively equate to a 2 percent pay cut, a highly reduced retirement health care benefit and additional layoffs on a pretense of part-time employment. . . . Mr. Neall's zealousness in building the county coffers has and is producing a negative impact on county employees. . . . The county employees have gone three years without a raise or a cost-of-living adjustment, have been furloughed, are being laid off, and now Mr. Neall proposes we work three additional days a year, pay unconscionable rates for our health benefits upon retirement, and that we should expect to have our full-time positions reduced to part-time . . .

We (as concerned citizens) cannot allow a "new government" with employees of low morale and non-existent ambition to evolve at the expense of our current government of concerned, enthusiastic, dedicated and, by God, proud employees.

Napoleon said, "There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous," and Mr. Neall now takes this step with his proposed legislation. Enough is enough.

Dennis P. Howell

Crownsville

The writer is vice president of the Fraternal Order of PoliceMaryland Lodge 70.

Trouble In Fire Department

The Anne Arundel County Fire Department is in a state of turmoil, perhaps even a state of crisis. Most county residents, including the writer, who are not familiar with all of the issues, find the situation a bit bewildering.

What is the problem? Who is to blame? Which of the many claims and counter-claims are right? I do not know all the answers and, as in many complicated problems, there may not be a single set of "right" answers.

One thing, however, is clear: There is a failure of leadership and an appalling lack of management on the part of County Executive Robert Neall and Fire Administrator Paul Haigley. To have allowed the situation to have deteriorated to the point where the volunteers, for whatever reason, are nearly in a state of mutiny, is clear proof that something is very, very wrong.

If Neall knew as much about government as he pretends to know, he would realize the financial benefit of having a large volunteer fire department. If Haigley gets his way and drives the volunteers out of business completely, this county will be faced with two very unappealing alternatives: Find the millions of dollars necessary to hire paid replacements for the volunteers or suffer the consequences of a serious degradation of fire protection and emergency medical service. . . .

William A. Heidecker

Severn

____________

In 1931, a group of citizens in Odenton met in the small office of O'Malley's Coal Yard to organize what is now known as the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company. William A. Pumphrey Sr. was named as first chief of the company.

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