Council agrees on $1.9 million in budget cuts

County property tax rate would remain at $2.855

May 20, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Council agreed yesterday to cut $1.9 million from County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger's $1.7 billion operating budget, sparing virtually every major program and pay raise proposed by the executive.

The council, which is scheduled to adopt the budget formally May 28, agreed at a work session yesterday to keep the tax rate at $2.855 per $100 of assessed value, where it has been for five years.

That means that with increased property assessments, the average yearly Baltimore County residential property tax bill will rise $23 to $1,433 in July, county officials said.

Council Chairman Kevin B. Kamenetz said the cuts would have allowed for a one-cent reduction on the tax rate, equivalent to a savings of $5 on the average residential tax bill.

"I think the average resident would rather see that money plowed back into services in their community, things like community conservation, police protection and public works," said Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Randallstown Democrat.

Kamenetz said he will negotiate with Ruppersberger's staff over the next few days to see that the $1.9 million cut by the council from various departments be designated for community projects.

Some $1.6 million in cuts were approved by county department heads in budget review sessions over the past two weeks, Kamenetz said.

The cuts included $860,000 in cost-of-living increases for school principals and other supervisors. The council cut the money after learning that the supervisors had received negotiated salary increases. School officials agreed that they weren't supposed to get both cost-of-living and negotiated increases.

School officials agreed to the cut the money from the schools' $837 million proposed budget after reviewing -- and correcting -- their original budget figures, Kamenetz said.

"These cuts are due to errors and miscalculations from the school administration," Kamenetz said. "There's nothing here that's being cut from the classroom."

The council also trimmed $1.1 million from the capital budget's economic development financing fund after it was found that the fund had $1.1 million more than budget analysts had estimated.

Pub Date: 5/20/99

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