As accusations fly, budget gets preliminary OK

June 14, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

After accusations of paranoia and underhandedness, members of the Annapolis City Council promised last night to work together this week to pass the city's 1995 operating budget.

Despite earlier confusion over whether the council would vote Monday on the mayor's budget proposal or the plan submitted by the finance committee, the council passed on first reader last night the budget submitted by the finance committee.

The $38.5 million plan calls for the restoration of twice-weekly garbage collection, Sunday bus service and the jobs of 13 public works employees that the mayor had proposed cutting. The plan also includes new fees and taxes for local businesses and the sale of a fire station to help pay for the plan.

At a public hearing last night, a number of municipal employees protested the proposed creation of a new bureau to oversee economic matters and tourism. Many also pleaded for their jobs.

"I darn sure don't want to lose my house because you cut back on garbage collection to once a week," public works employee Richard VanBlargan said.

The barbed exchanges among council members came at the end of the meeting, long after residents who testified on the budget had gone home.

Alderman Theresa DeGraff, a Ward 7 Republican, started the exchanges when she stated that she wanted to clear up published reports that council members were seeking to oust some city employees.

Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, a Ward 8 Democrat who resigned last week as head of the council's Finance Committee, insisted that there had been a push to fire several employees and said that secret meetings of some alderman may have violated the state's open-meetings law.

Her statements prompted Ms. DeGraff to reply, "This has gone )) beyond paranoia." Ms. DeGraff said that she felt as though she had been "insulted by a fellow alderman."

Alderman Louise Hammond, a Ward 1 Democrat, in whose home several aldermen gathered Saturday, said she had wanted to meet with her colleagues to better understand the budget.

She said consulted the city attorney and notified the media once she learned that a possible quorum of the council would be present.

"I think Ms. Moyer needs to get her facts straight," Mrs. Hammond said.

Alderman Wayne Turner, a Ward 6 Republican, told Ms. Moyer she was "way out of line with this and off the deep end."

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat, trying to calm tempers, said that the finance committee's budget wasn't perfect, but that he expected the council to pull together and make changes they could agree upon.

"We have to begin to work together," Mr. Snowden said.

A somewhat cynical Alderman Sam Gilmer, a Ward 3 Democrat, chuckled after Mr. Snowden and others called for compromise.

"You all sound so beautiful. You all are playing politics. I've never seen so much politics played in my life," Mr. Gilmer said.

In other business, the council approved last night a package of legislation regulating beds and break

fasts, restaurants, professional offices and businesses in the city's downtown.

The legislation will create three conservation districts -- one for residences, one for businesses and one for professional offices.

New restaurants will be required to close by midnight and sales of alcoholic beverages must not constitute more than 50 percent of total revenues.

New bed and breakfasts may not contain more than five guest rooms.

Owners will be required to provide parking passes for guests and the number of bed and breakfasts in a given block will be limited.

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