$1.2 billion budget OK'd as submitted by Hayden Such clear sailing last seen in 1959 BALTIMORE COUNTY

May 27, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

The Baltimore County Council yesterday approved County Executive Roger B. Hayden's proposed $1.2 billion budget as submitted, the first time that an executive's budget has gone through untouched in more than 30 years.

The formal vote was 6-1 to approve the document. The budget takes effect July 1.

Councilman Donald C. Mason, D-7th, who represents Dundalk, voted "no" for the second year in a row. Mr. Mason said that by leaving the property tax rate at $2.865 per $100 of assessed value, the county is failing to compensate for slowly rising assessments. For the average homeowner, the assessment increases equal a 7-cent rise in the property tax rate -- about $32 a year.

After the vote, Council Chairman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, D-3rd, said the council could not afford to alienate state legislators by cutting the budget, especially after complaining about two years of recession-driven state cuts, and the county's own budget problems. Nearly 300 county workers were laid off in February, and several libraries and senior centers were closed.

In his 20-page message, Mr. Ruppersberger said the county has spent two years devising ways of controlling county spending and creating a balance between expenses and revenues. "It would be foolhardy at this time to disturb the delicate balance we have achieved," he said.

The last time a budget had gone through untouched occurred in 1959.

That budget was submitted by Christian H. Kahl, a Democrat, in the second year of home-rule government. The Kahl budget totaled $65.9 million and there was no formal budget message.

Signs of the approaching 1994 elections were evident in the comments about the Hayden budget.

Democratic Councilmen Melvin G. Mintz, D-2nd, and Vincent J. Gardina, D-5th, voted for the plan but were especially critical.

Mr. Gardina called it a "status quo" plan which "continues to move us toward mediocrity."

Mr. Mintz said he was "disappointed" with the plan.

Republicans Douglas B. Riley, R-4th, and William A. Howard 4th, R-6th, praised Mr. Hayden's efforts. Mr. Riley called the budget "masterful," while Mr. Howard called it "very lean."

Mr. Ruppersberger said the only possible large cut was the $15 million Mr. Hayden pumped into the capital budget, which is normally funded through bond sales. The capital budget money is badly needed to keep the county's schools, roads, bridges and infrastructure from falling apart, Mr. Ruppersberger said during his speech.

The message also urged Mr. Hayden to restore the money needed to open Sudbrook Middle School as a magnet school in September 1994.

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