Funds for hundreds of additional drug treatment and day care slots were approved yesterday by the board overseeing Baltimore's multimillion dollar federal revitalization effort.
But the approval of $6.4 million to treat 5,400 drug addicts and provide day care subsidies for 360 children rekindled a debate about whether too much money was being spent to expand existing social service programs and not enough was being directed to create jobs.
The money is in addition to $34 million for business development, housing and job training programs approved last month.
The city is getting $100 million for its designation as a federal empowerment zone to revitalize dilapidated areas of East, West and South Baltimore, along with substantial tax breaks for businesses in the zone.
Morton I. Rapoport, head of the board's health committee, said at yesterday's board meeting that $5 million to fund 1,200 drug treatment slots would help prepare addicted zone residents for jobs. The slots would be in addition to the city's 5,700.
"The committee feels very strongly that one of the fundamental issues in sustaining a work force is initiatives in drug abuse and substance abuse," said Dr. Rapoport, president of the University of Maryland Medical System.
But board member Robert C. Embry Jr. argued that funding more drug treatment slots would not make "a significant change in these communities."
"Are we going to be creating any jobs, or are we spending a lot of money on traditional social services?" asked Mr. Embry, president of the Abell Foundation. "We're spending a little here, a little there. Pretty soon the money's going to be spent," he added.
JoAnn Osborne, a board member and resident of Sandtown-Winchester in the empowerment zone in West Baltimore, disagreed. She said residents and potential businesses were frightened by addicts on the streets.
"We have to do something about substance abuse," she said.
There was less debate over providing $1.4 million to fund 360 day care slots for the children of zone residents who needed job training. Mr. Embry, however, pointedly asked that he be recorded as voting against the proposal.
The question over how much of the $100 million in federal funds should be spent on business development and how much should go for social services has been raised frequently at meetings of both the empowerment zone board and the executive committee.
The board has scheduled a daylong retreat at the Cross Keys Inn next month in an effort to resolve the issue.
Also yesterday, board Chairman Mathias J. DeVito appointed member Warren Simmons to head a search committee to choose a successor to C. Edward Hitchcock as the zone's top administrator. Mr. Hitchcock, appointed by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to the post just five weeks ago, resigned this week, effective June 30.