Harford adopts $237 million budget

May 26, 1994|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Sun Staff Writer

Harford County Council members unanimously approved yesterday the county's proposed $237.3 million budget for fiscal 1995.

The seven-member council voted about 1:40 a.m.

The budget includes a $175 million operating budget -- about 10 percent higher than last year's of $160 million -- and $62 million for the highway, water and sewer, and solid waste budgets.

The tax rate remains unchanged at $2.73 in most of the county. In the three municipalities of Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace it will stay at $2.34.

The $7.4 million pay package proposed by County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, giving county and school employees 3 percent across-the-board raises and merit raises, was left intact.

Council members earmarked about $1 million more for schools than the roughly $9 million increase proposed by Mrs. Rehrmann.

The school system had asked Mrs. Rehrmann for $101 million, a $14 million increase. She gave it $96 million, compared with fiscal 1994's $87 million.

About $660,000 of the council's $1 million increase had the administration's blessing.

The money will be used to open a night school in Aberdeen for potential high school dropouts and to make up for some federal budget cuts in a reading and math program for poor elementary-age children.

About $190,000 was set aside to expand the school system's special education program.

Council members voted 5-to-2 to give the school system an additional $350,000 to hire five teachers and add money to special education.

Robert S. Wagner, R-District E, and Philip J. Barker, D-District F, voted against the $350,000.

"Where are we going to get the money to pay for these things next year?" Mr. Wagner said.

The $350,000 came from one-time only reductions: $100,000 from the fund used to pay for the transportation of recyclable materials from Harford County to the processing plant in Linthicum and $250,000 from the fund used to cover unexpected costs.

Jean R. Thomas, president of the Harford County Education Association, said the county would not have trouble paying for teachers and special education in the future.

"This county is in excellent shape," she said. "The county doesn't need a contingency reserve fund when Mrs. Rehrmann has a multimillion dollar surplus sitting outside the budget."

Mrs. Rehrmann has an estimated fund balance of $8.7 million set aside for fiscal 1995.

The money is kept separate from the budget.

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