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Final Budget Approval Set for Morning Council Meeting

Spending plan holds the line on property and income tax rates and proposes minimal cuts.

The Baltimore County Council is scheduled to vote to approve $258,000 in cuts to the $1.6 billion general fund budget at a meeting that begins at 10 a.m.

The cuts to County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's first proposed budget amount to a reduction of less than two-hundredths of a percent—one of the second smallest cuts in two decades.

The budget is expected to hold the line on property and income tax rates—neither of which have been increased in two decades.

One of the largest reductions, about $120,000, came from the Department of Public Works. The majority of the cuts, about $112,000, came from what was called a miscalculation in gas and electric expenses.

The council halved a $110,500 proposed cut that would have, in part, paid for a lawn mower for . The council and auditor said they expect the county will make up the difference through a separate fund for such equipment.

The council also cut nearly $24,000 from the sheriff's budget, including half of a nearly $37,700 line item for salary savings from positions that are expected to go unfilled.

The council can only cut the budget. It is prohibited from moving money or adding to the annual spending plan.

The legislative body can use its budget message to make its priorities and concerns clear to the county executive and department heads.

Two issues that could come up in the council budget message related to the restoration of nearly 200 teaching positions in the county schools system and restoration of funding for the Maryland Food Bank.

The council pressed Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston to commit to restoring the teaching positions should his budget have a surplus. The cost of the teacher positions is estimated at nearly $16 million.

Hairston declined to agree to the request, saying he expects the next budget year to be even tougher than this one.

The council also made largely symbolic cuts to some city-based arts and nonprofit groups. The 10 percent reductions on programs receiving $50,000 or less in county grants only netted a reduction of about $27,000.

Councilman David Marks, a Republican, suggested the cuts after many on the council expressed concern about funding such groups at the same time the county eliminated a $250,000 grant to the Maryland Food Bank.

Marks said two weeks ago that he would like the council to use its budget message to ask Kamenetz to restore the money to the food bank.

bc67 May 28, 2011 at 12:22 PM
One thing I have always found interesting is to compare the budgets of surrounding Counties. If you look at the population, number of citizens, miles of roads and number of schools compared to the budget. For instance, Baltimore Counties budget is 1.6 billion and Howard County is 1.56 billion. Baltimore County is twice the size of Howard County in all of the categories above. Just something to think about.
Lorna D. Rudnikas May 28, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Come on honey child - I think the discussion is hitting on "financial impact" of all kinds all the way to the county level. "Alties????" Interesting. Be nice - no labeling please!
Buzz Beeler May 29, 2011 at 01:11 AM
Lorna, well spoken. Out of the right pocket come the federal taxes, out of the left local and state taxes. Baltimore County depends on state and federal tax dollars for such funding as highway safety, eduction, health care and so on. The state also relies on federal money, in fact the states budget was balanced on federal stimulus money. We are seeing the results of the loss of that stimulus money and next year will be more dire. All tributaries lead to the main body of water. bc, interesting comment, but I would double check those figures. http://resources.baltimorecountymd.gov/Documents/Budget/12budget/fy2012budget.pdf As per the operating budget FY 2012 is $2.6. billion. The budget is broken into two categories, the operating and capital. I only listed the operating budget figure. This figure follows the county executives budget message to the council.
bc67 May 29, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Thanks Buzz, I took the figure from a Patch artical about Howard County,the same as the artical above about Baltimore County. I just assumed they were comparing apples and apples.
Buzz Beeler May 29, 2011 at 08:37 PM
BC, its been so long since I looked at that budget, I had to stop and think myself. There is so much going on. Bryan had to set me straight on the Parkville issue. I thought it was a contract out on a bid which requires three sealed bids if its over $25,000. Come to find out it wasn't. Oops. My friend with the titles always whips me about taking the time to make sure.

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