City budget chief expects layoffs next year because of the recession

Police, fire overtime costs contribute to $8.9 million shortfall this fiscal year

February 26, 2002|By Caitlin Francke and Gady A. Epstein | Caitlin Francke and Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

The city's budget chief told Baltimore City Council members yesterday that layoffs are expected next year because of the recession, though he is hopeful that the administration will not have to dismiss workers this fiscal year.

Edward J. Gallagher, deputy city finance director and acting budget director, said that overtime costs in the police and fire departments are running millions of dollars over budget, contributing to a projected $8.9 million general fund shortfall this fiscal year, which ends June 30. But he said a citywide hiring freeze is helping to hold down costs, and he tempered what had been a gloomier forecast in the fall, when the projected budget shortfall was higher.

Next year's budget, Gallagher said, looks more difficult to balance. Despite an increase in the city's income tax that took effect last month, income tax receipts are coming in far lower than expected.

"We thought [2003] was going to be our first comfortable year, but the recession has changed that," Gallagher said, telling council members that layoffs are expected. "We're definitely going to downsize."

At the same time, council members heard gloomy predictions about getting help from Annapolis.

Deputy Mayor Jeanne D. Hitchcock asked the council to mobilize constituents to lobby for city funding.

"Help. Help. Help. Help," Hitchcock said.

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