He'd start layoffs outside city limits

June 03, 1993|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Staff Writer

If Baltimore has to trim its municipal work force, it first should lay off employees who live outside the city, a Baltimore City councilman says.

"We should be laying off some of our folks who live in the county ahead of city residents," Councilman Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham said yesterday.

"If residency is the primary requisite for employment, it should be the primary factor in layoffs, too," the 3rd District Democrat added.

Mr. Cunningham introduced the latest wrinkle on residency during and after the first of a series of City Council hearings on the fiscal 1994 budget. The council has until June 30 to approve or cut the $2.16 billion budget approved May 19 by the Board of Estimates.

The suggestion prompted an immediate rejoinder from one of Mr. Cunningham's counterparts in Baltimore County.

"It shouldn't escalate," said County Councilman William A. Howard IV, R-6th, referring to residency requirements. "I think we can work on our economic problems on a cooperative basis."

"It isn't fair to choose people based on where they live," he added.

Residency rules have been a hotly debated topic since Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke announced three weeks ago that all new municipal workers would have to become city residents within a year after the start of their employment and continue to live in the city to keep their jobs. Already, two suburban state legislators have plans to introduce legislation in next year's General Assembly outlawing such requirements.

Mr. Cunningham said the impetus for his suggestion was the abolition in the upcoming budget of the positions of three city budget analysts, two of whom live in the city. "Can you tell us why the preferences don't work as we abolish positions?" Mr. Cunningham asked city Budget Director Edward J. Gallagher.

"We follow union rules, and they have to do with seniority," Mr. Gallagher replied.

Mr. Cunningham said later that the city could negotiate new contracts with the unions.

The question of residency also came up at a hearing on the Police Department budget.

Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, D-4th, a strong advocate of the residency requirement, asked how many of six high-ranking police officials lived in the city. Four of the six raised their hands.

Ms. Dixon then asked how officials could ensure that new recruits met the residency requirements.

Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph W. Nixon said the department would rely on state Motor Vehicle Administration driver's license and automobile registration records and would "selectively go out and canvas" to ensure compliance.

Council Budget and Appropriations Committee Co-Chair Joseph J. DiBlasi, D-6th, said he would ask Mayor Schmoke and the Board of Estimates to put off the renovation of Police Department headquarters and use some of those funds to pay for additional foot patrol officers as an alternative to the rise of 2 percent in the piggyback income tax the mayor has suggested.

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