$38 million city budget is adopted

June 21, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

The Annapolis City Council last night adopted a $38 million operating budget for fiscal 1995, although the document was amended so many times that officials late last night had yet to calculate the ultimate cost to taxpayers.

The aldermen made more than 35 changes to the budget proposed by the City Council Finance Committee. As a result, finance officials were left scrambling to calculate the exact amount of the budget and the property tax rate for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

"In my 28 years on the council, and in 28 budgets, I've never seen this many amendments," said Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins.

The budget was adopted by a 6-1 vote. Two aldermen were absent.

Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, a Ward 8 Democrat, voted against the budget, calling it the "most irresponsible and insensitive budget we've ever passed."

Ms. Moyer, who had headed the Finance Committee until she resigned two weeks ago, frequently was the lone vote against the amendments adopted last night.

Although this year's budget process was one of the most contentious in memory, by last night the aldermen had worked out most of their disagreements.

They agreed to keep twice-a-week garbage collection and Sunday bus service, allotted money to provide bus transportation to the health clinic off Riva Road, and set aside funding for Fourth of July fireworks.

The aldermen voted to eliminate commercial garbage collection downtown and agreed that businesses should find private collectors without municipal oversight. They rejected the proposed sale of the fire house on Duke of Gloucester Street.

The council also approved a number of new fees, doubling the cost of parking meter fees from 50 cents to $1 an hour, and doubling the fines for parking violations from $10 to $20.

The council increased fees for garbage collection and water and sewer connection but rejected a $25 business fee, a $1,500 entertainment license fee and a $25 downtown parking permit for residents.

Most of last night's debate was reserved for personnel issues, as the council moved to eliminate positions and to combine other jobs in an effort to streamline the government.

The council voted to merge the positions of public information specialist and public information coordinator and eliminated the position of economic development consultant.

During the debate on personnel changes, the subject of nepotism surfaced.

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat, angrily denied an allegation that a change was being proposed in a secretary's classification because the job was held by another alderman's wife.

Mr. Snowden called the allegation that Sylvia Gilmer was being given special consideration because she is the wife of Alderman Samuel Gilmer, a "cheap, unprofessional, political shot."

City Personnel Director Thomas W. Engelke had sent a letter to the council alleging that Mrs. Gilmer was being given special treatment.

Mr. Snowden said Mr. Gilmer had never sought favors for his wife. He then pointed out what he said were examples of nepotism in city government.

"If you're going to make charges of feathering the nest, it's obvious who the real beneficiaries are," Mr. Snowden said.

He cited 40 cases of what he said was nepotism, most in the fire, police and public works departments.

The council voted to increase the salary of the position held by Mr. Gilmer's wife, although the increase was not as great as what the Finance Committee had originally proposed.

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