Move to end a department, create another is debated General Services' status sparks council dispute

March 19, 1996|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

Howard County government officials are moving to dissolve one department and create a new one a proposal that caused a few sparks during last night's County Council meeting.

"We have a department that is working," said Councilman C. Vernon Gray, an East Columbia Democrat, expressing his concerns over the fate of the Department of General Services.

That department becomes expendable, Mr. Gray's foes say, upon the creation of the Department of Technology and Communications Services, which would centralize all the county's technical services such as telephones, radios, 911, computers, automated mapping and cable television.

What remains of the Department of General Services maintenance of the county's buildings and vehicles and management of the county's insurance programs would be folded into other departments.

North Laurel Republican Dennis R. Schrader, who is pushing for the change, manages public works for the University of Maryland Medical System.

As a result, he says, he understands construction and maintenance functions.

He has proposed folding the county's building maintenance into the county's Public Works Department.

"This stuff is somewhat of a no-brainer," said Mr. Schrader, one of three Republicans on the five-member council.

But Mr. Gray said the council should study the Department of General Services more before moving to dissolve it.

He asked County Administrator Raquel Sanudo, who spoke in favor of the proposal, a series of questions.

Mr. Gray asked, for example, whether County Executive Charles I. Ecker had been consulted about the General Services plan Ms. Sanudo answered no and whether her department could handle the extra duties of vehicle maintenance she answered yes.

During the meeting, Mr. Schrader said, "She's taking a lot of flak that should be directed at me."

But Mr. Gray, who considers that one of his duties as a councilman is to study issues and to demand to see figures, said he was only doing his job.

"I'm asking questions," he said sarcastically. "Sorry."

Pub Date: 3/19/96

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