Moyer's resignation sends budget talks reeling

June 10, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

Deliberations on the 1995 Annapolis operating budget are in disarray after the resignation of the City Council's finance committee chairwoman and word that the majority of council apparently wants to go back to the budget the mayor proposed more than a month ago.

As a result of the confusion, no one is certain which of two budget plans will be discussed when a public hearing resumes on Monday.

"I'm in a terrible quandary," said Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins.

Alderman Ellen O. Moyer stepped down from the finance committee post yesterday, complaining of the heavy-handed tactics of some of her colleagues.

They, in turn, have accused her of making decisions without consent of other members of her committee.

The mayor made a budget recommendation to the City Council's finance committee early last month. After weeks of workshops and discussions, the finance committee presented its own budget recommendations last Friday.

A public hearing on that budget plan was held on Monday. But when a number of citizens complained that they had not had enough time to review the budget, Mr. Hopkins agreed to resume the hearing the next Monday.

Now Alderman Wayne Turner, a Ward 6 Republican, said he intends to make a motion that the council return to the mayor's budget, and he said he believes he has the five votes to do it.

He called the finance committee's budget an "outrage" and "an insult to the taxpayers."

The differences between the two spending plans are substantial. The mayor's budget calls for reducing garbage collection from twice a week to once a week, eliminating city bus service on Sundays and cutting bus routes into the county and terminating the jobs of 13 public works employees.

The finance committee seeks to restore the twice-a-week garbage collection, Sunday bus service and the jobs. The

committee also wants money for community policing programs and archaeology. The committee also has proposed combining several city jobs under a new bureau of Economic Matters and Public Affairs.

In order to make up revenue, the finance committee proposes selling the fire station on Duke of Gloucester Street and levying a $25 fee on all businesses.

"This is an absolute mess," said Alderman Theresa DeGraff, a Ward 7 Republican. She said she would not support the finance committee's budget because it fails to cut government bureaucracy and spending.

The finance committee is proposing a $38.5 million budget, compared with the mayor's $37.8 million spending plan.

Ms. DeGraff said she supports the elimination of the 13 public works jobs and reducing the city government bureaucracy. She is suggesting a compromise on garbage collection that would provide twice-a-week pickup during the summer and once a week the rest of the year.

But she said she would like to see bus service restored to the county. She said she opposes the finance committee's recommendation on selling the fire house and the plan to levy the $25 business fee.

Alderman Louise Hammond, a Ward 1 Democrat, said she, too, prefers to start council deliberations with the mayor's budget rather than the finance committee's plan.

She said she opposes the creation of a new city bureau and wants to eliminate the job of economic development coordinator, currently held by Miguel Ferrer.

Some aldermen said they were upset to learn that Ms. Moyer, a Ward 8 Democrat, acted alone in making some of the decisions on the committee's budget proposal.

Ms. Moyer said she made the decisions, such as recommending the sale of the fire house and the new business fee, because the other committee members were out of town. She said she notified them of the changes later, however, and they did not object.

Ms. Moyer accused some of the aldermen of holding the finance committee's budget hostage in order to press for the elimination of some city positions and to further their own political careers.

She said she would not go along with several aldermen who want to eliminate the positions of economic development coordinator and the public information officer. She said she also opposes the attempt by some aldermen to press the administration into firing some department heads.

"This is just a vendetta against certain employees," Ms. Moyer said. "I cannot in all good faith support it."

She blamed the dispute on political ambitions of some council members.

With her resignation the chairmanship of the committee will likely go to Alderman Carl Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat, who said he was "embarrassed" by the confusion surrounding this year's budget.

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