Hearings on city budget to begin

Spending plan would cut, privatize some positions

May 13, 2002|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A $2.1 billion proposed Baltimore City budget that would eliminate or privatize several dozen jobs will be the subject of two days of public hearings before the City Council's Budget and Appropriations Committee this week.

The budget, which will take effect in the fiscal year beginning July 1, is not as contentious as last year's, which called for about 175 people to be laid off. Still, the proposed cuts have met with criticism because some favored city services face the chopping block.

At issue are the proposed privatization of about 40 jobs at the Department of Recreation and Parks, the layoff of 11 workers who landscape city medians, and the elimination of a day care program, called the School Age Child Care Program, which serves about 110 children but is foundering because of low attendance rates.

The cuts are the continuation of a trend in a government that for decades has shrunk, as has the population it serves. The exception to the trend is in the area of public safety, in which Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley continues to invest heavily.

The Police Department's general fund budget, where most of its money is spent, is slated to receive $15.7 million, or 6.9 percent, more than it did in last year's budget.

The public is invited to the hearings but will not be allowed to testify. That right is reserved for Taxpayer's Night on May 20.

The hearing schedule is as follows:

Today, in the Curran Conference Room on the fourth floor of City Hall, an overview of the budget will be presented from 10:30 a.m. until noon. At 1 p.m., the Police Department's budget will be reviewed. The state's attorney's office and the city library system will follow the police.

Tomorrow, in the same conference room, the hearing for the Department of Recreation and Parks will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon. At 1 p.m., the Fire Department's budget will be analyzed. The Department of Education, the Baltimore Development Corp. and the Office of Promotion will follow.

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