In Baltimore City $2.1 billion budget approved by...

CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

April 25, 2002|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

In Baltimore City

$2.1 billion budget approved by board, forwarded to council

The Board of Estimates approved yesterday a $2.1 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 and sent it to the City Council for consideration.

The budget would eliminate more than 100 filled jobs citywide, including 39 custodians in recreation and parks whose work would be contracted out at an expected savings of $700,000 a year. Officials said they hope to minimize layoffs by finding city jobs or other employment for affected workers.

Noting concerns about layoffs, Comptroller Joan M. Pratt cast the only dissenting vote against the budget yesterday. City Council budget hearings are scheduled to begin May 13.

Board of Estimates OKs overhaul of sewer system

The Board of Estimates approved yesterday a settlement under which Baltimore will pay a $600,000 fine and overhaul the city's sewer system at a cost of as much as $900 million or more over the next 14 years to address Clean Water Act violations.

The settlement with federal regulators requires work to address decades-old problems of leaks and overflows in the nearly century-old sewer system. City officials have estimated the overall cost of the work between $750 million and $900 million, though Justice Department officials say the final cost will likely be higher.

The cost could force a doubling or more of sewer rates. City officials have said repeatedly that they don't know how much sewer rates will go up, but they expect continual increases over the next 14 years. Today, a family of four's average quarterly water and sewer bill is $129, city officials say.

Nonprofit group to run East Baltimore school

Baltimore's school board has agreed to give a nonprofit organization control of Collington Square Elementary School in East Baltimore. Beginning in the fall, the school will be run by the Baltimore Curriculum Project, which receives support from the Abell Foundation.

City Springs Elementary, also in East Baltimore, has seen a rise in test scores during the past several years under Curriculum Project management. At Collington Square, the Curriculum Project would keep the school's highly structured phonics-based curriculum but add grades six through eight.

The Curriculum Project also has asked to run Hampstead Hill Elementary School beginning in the fall, but the board has not made a final decision on that proposal.

In Baltimore County

Schools closing week early because winter was mild

TOWSON -- Because of a mild winter with no snow days, Baltimore County schools will close a week earlier than scheduled.

The last day of school will be Friday, June 14. The Board of Education approved the change at its meeting Tuesday night.

The board builds in four days for emergency closings. To avoid ending the school year on a Monday, the state waived the last day of school, school system spokeswoman Sharon Norman told the board.

Garden event delayed for a day by rainy forecast

TOWSON -- Towson Gardens Day has been postponed until tomorrow because of the threat of rain.

The annual event, which celebrates Towson greenery, was to have taken place today. The festival includes tours of the courthouse garden and Towson's Secret Garden on Baltimore Avenue, about 100 plant, crafts and food vendors, awards to local gardeners and free advice from gardening experts. The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information: 410-825-2211.

Educational comedian to speak at school tonight

REISTERSTOWN -- Michael Pritchard, an educational comedian and motivational speaker, will appear at 7 p.m. today in the Franklin High School auditorium.

Pritchard, who stars in an educational series on the Public Broadcasting Service, will speak about issues facing youngsters and their families. Among his topics will be decision-making, peer pressure, violence, respect and drug use.

Admission is free, but tickets are required. Information: 410- 887-1119 or 410-521-4141.

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