Council to vote on operating budget

June 20, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

After weeks of debate and accusations, the Annapolis City Council is set to vote tonight on the operating budget for fiscal 1995, which begins July 1.

The finance committee, headed by a new chairman, spent most of last week trying to work out compromises that would win the support of a majority on the council.

On Friday, the committee met for four hours before coming up with a list of amendments to the budget the finance committee proposed two weeks ago.

The amendments to be introduced tonight include the elimination of seven city jobs, an increase in garbage fees from $188 to $200 a year per household in order to pay for twice-a-week garbage collection, and money to continue bus service on Riva Road to the health clinic.

The committee found $20,000 to put toward a fireworks display on July 4, although donations would have to make up the rest of the estimated $50,000 that will be needed if a show is to be held this year.

Other amendments the committee is recommending include:

* Eliminating a $25 business fee.

* Canceling the proposed sale of the fire station on Duke of Gloucester Street.

* Abolishing a new bureau of economic matters and public affairs.

* Reducing the proposed increases in liquor license fees and water and sewer hookup charges.

Although the committee voted to overturn cuts the mayor had proposed in bus transportation, City Attorney Paul Goetzke said it is unclear whether the city can legally operate a transportation system in the county.

"A city's authority to offer services outside its boundary is not unlimited," Mr. Goetzke said.

CIf bus service were forced to stop at the city line, there would be no service to the Annapolis Mall.

The finance committee told Mr. Goetzke to research the legal issues and prepare a report for the council before tonight's vote.

One of the most divisive issues facing the council is the question of job elimination.

Among the job cuts recommended by the finance committee:

* Either the economic development consultant or the new economic matters and public affairs coordinator position. One person, chosen by the mayor, would be retained as economic coordinator.

* Either the public relations officer or the public information specialist, the choice being left to the mayor.

* One public works administrator.

* Three now-vacant garbage collecting jobs.

* One police officer's position.

In addition to the seven positions that the committee recommends abolishing are two already slated for elimination in the budget.

Still undecided is whether the council should reduce the marina slip tax from 10 percent to 5 percent, or phase in the reduction over two years.

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat and the new chairman of the finance committee, said despite efforts to reach a compromise, issues still will be hotly debated. "The finance committee recommended streamlining where we could do it in good conscience," he said.

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