Retired city worker rehired as consultant to circuit judge Board agrees to extend contract for six months

July 23, 1998|By Gerard Shields DTC | Gerard Shields DTC,SUN STAFF

After weeks of delay, the Baltimore Board of Estimates agreed yesterday to hire a retired city employee as a consultant.

The five-member board that issues city contracts had debated whether the city should pay Mary B. Widomski $51,000 for a second straight year as office administrator for Baltimore Circuit Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan. The board ultimately agreed to hire Widomski for six months at half the salary.

Widomski was one of about 1,200 city employees who took early retirement two years ago as part of a systematic downsizing of government. At the time, city leaders agreed that retired employees could only be rehired on a contractual basis for three months. The police department, among others, has employed the practice.

But Kaplan requested two months ago that Widomski's contract be extended, noting that his office has been without an administrator for three years. Widomski previously served as deputy administrator.

City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt raised concerns since Kaplan's request about what Bell called "double-dipping" into the city payroll.

"Are we circumventing the system by allowing someone to take advantage of [retirement] and coming back at a higher pay?" Pratt asked.

The board agreed to renew the latest contract with Widomski for only six months, cutting its cost to $25,700.

In other action, the board delayed at least a week disbursing money to repair 12 homes in the Wilson Park area of Govans after State Sen. Joan Carter Conway expressed concern about the planned giveaway.

The board was considering approving $222,500 in community development bond funds to correct what the city called shoddy workmanship on the $1.16 million development built three years ago for first-time home buyers.

The city had agreed to assist the homeowners because Baltimore's Housing and Community Development office had contributed $360,000 in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds.

In April, the city selected Baltimore-based Botech Inc. to correct deficiencies, but HUD barred the contractor from the project.

The housing department planned to resolve the matter by disbursing $407,500 in bond funds, $185,000 of which was approved earlier this year. The city planned to pay each homeowner $32,000 to hire their own contractors.

The board delayed another expenditure yesterday after Conway said some property damage is worse than others. "Some owners may need $18,000 while other homeowners may need $57,000," Conway said.

Pub Date: 7/23/98

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