Balog vows to be thrifty, keep streets free of snow Public works director appears before council seeking reappointment

March 07, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Public Works Director George G. Balog told City Council members yesterday that he would do a better job removing snow from the city's streets and vowed to save money by computerizing billing and reducing managerial staff.

Mr. Balog appeared before a council committee seeking reappointment as chief of one of the city's largest departments for a third four-year term.

During the low-key hearing, Mr. Balog was questioned about the city's Quarantine Road Sanitary Landfill, where a contract for work at a runoff pond cost more than budgeted and prompted fears of contaminated ground water.

Councilman Martin O'Malley raised concerns about the quality and source of the clay lining for the runoff pond. He said he had conflicting information on where the city purchased the clay.

"I reject your assertions" that the city was at fault, Mr. Balog said. But, he added, "You make good points, and we will check them out."

Councilwoman Joan Carter Conway asked Mr. Balog about the reorganization in his department that has seen the ouster of several midlevel and high-ranking managers. Most recently, nine managers, including Deputy Director George Winfield, were forced to leave the department because of budget cuts. C "The way we look at it, we have a manager who can retire or get another job or we have four laborers who make $20,000," said Mr. Balog, who earns $112,976 a year and has been director since 1988. "Those are tough questions to answer." Mr. Balog, who serves on the five-member Board of Estimates, told committee members that he has never disagreed with the mayor while on the board.

"The mayor is a smart man," said Mr. Balog. "We've had discussions, but I think we have always come to the same conclusions."

Mr. Balog won the ire of some council members during this year's January blizzard. They publicly charged that he acted too slowly to make the streets passable after the record snowfall.

While drafting legislation to revamp how snow was removed from the streets, the council promised to question Mr. Balog about why the streets were not cleared more quickly.

But last night, snow removal was not a priority. Instead, Mr. Balog was praised for his quick work in subsequent snowfalls.

Pub Date: 3/07/96

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