Council to get quarterly updates on Balto. Co. personnel

Bill includes compromise with county executive

April 08, 2003|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Council passed a bill last night giving it line-by-line budget accounting of positions in the county government -- a move members say will help them hold the line on growth in the county's workforce.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. strongly opposed an earlier version of the bill, which he said would have required him to get approval from the council for even the most minute personnel move, preventing him from managing the county effectively.

Although some council members said they were offended by Smith's harsh response, they worked behind the scenes with the executive in the last month to forge a compromise: The original language requiring council approval was changed so that the executive must instead inform the council quarterly of personnel changes.

The executive's relationship with the council has been contentious since he was inaugurated in December, and this bill represents the first conflict in which both sides can claim victory.

Smith succeeded in eliminating the part of the bill he found most objectionable, but the council did not compromise on the increased accounting that members said was their primary goal.

"It's the same type of information available to the General Assembly upon their request. It's a cleaner accounting mechanism for the county, and it gives the council much more information about the budget," said Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat.

"The council has always been communicative and cooperative with the executive, and I'm glad the executive sees this as a bill he can support," said Council Chairman Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Ruxton Democrat.

The council also approved an amendment to the county's basic services maps to give three Greenspring Valley intersections failing grades. The move effectively prohibits the issuance of building permits nearby.

The intersections, which are in Kamenetz's district, are near the Greenspring Station office and retail complex, where neighbors have objected to developers' expansion plans.

The amendment calls for the county to re-examine traffic at all three intersections simultaneously on a day when school is in session.

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