Annapolis suffers in Arundel budget Council OKs plan boosting city taxes

workers get no raise

June 01, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel County Council approved yesterday a $754 million operating budget that includes more spending on public safety and education but denies 3,500 county employees pay raises for the third straight year.

The budget, which will chart spending for the fiscal year beginning July 1, will not raise property taxes for the majority of residents, although it does increase the curbside trash pickup fee by $36 a year for all county households.

But the budget does add 8 cents per $100 of assessed value to the Annapolis property tax rate by cutting the credit the city receives for providing some public services, such as police and fire protection. The increase will add $61 a year to the average Annapolis property tax bill and raise $760,000 a year for Anne Arundel.

The Annapolis property tax rate has started a political war between the city and Anne Arundel officials that landed in court this week.

Lawyers for Annapolis filed suit Thursday against top Anne Arundel officials to prevent the tax increase. An Anne Arundel Circuit judge delayed a ruling until Friday.

Heightening the hostilities, the council stripped from the budget $158,000 in anti-crime and transportation grants once earmarked for Annapolis. The budget still includes more than $9 million for city road and redevelopment projects.

Annapolis leaders say the council is settling a political score at the expense of taxpayers by removing even part of the money set aside for the city in the budget.

"It's a wrong-headed approach to the problem," Annapolis Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat, said yesterday.

County Councilman Thomas W. Redmond, a Pasadena Democrat who lobbied for the reduction in county aid to the city, said, "I would like to cut more."

The new county budget calls for spending 2.8 percent more than in the previous year, the third-smallest rise in county history.

Of the $754 million in the spending plan, $614.3 million will come from county taxes, the balance from federal and state grants.

More than 60 percent of the operating budget will be spent on public safety and public schools. "We're just concentrating on the priorities," said council Chairwoman Diane R. Evans, an Arnold Republican.

County employees lobbied hard for pay raises that County Executive John G. Gary, a Republican, said he could not afford this year. A 1 percent raise for all county workers would cost $5.5 million, equal to about 4 cents on the property tax rate.

The council also approved a $180 million construction budget dominated by two large projects, the $62 million county courthouse and the $29.7 million Glen Burnie Detention Center. The county will borrow $58 million this year through bond issues to pay for those projects.

The Board of Education will receive 20 percent of the capital budget for school construction and renovation projects.

In a statement yesterday, Gary, who introduced his spending plan May 1, said, "I couldn't be more delighted with the budget."

Pub Date: 6/01/96

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