The Anne Arundel County Council is slated to vote today on a proposed 3-cent property tax increase that is anticipated to help balance the county’s FY 12 budget. At a recent meeting the Council discussed cutting more than $19 million from County Executive Leopold’s proposed $1.2 billion budget through increased property tax rates or additional cuts to county departments and programs. The Baltimore Sun reports:
Under Leopold’s plan, the county would have its first layoffs in 20 years, cutting 35 employee positions that are vacant and 14 that are now filled. All county employees would be furloughed for 12 days, amounting to a pay cut of about 5 percent.
Leopold’s spokesman, Dave Abrams, criticized council efforts to trim the budget. “We’re disappointed that the council is micromanaging government operations and making short-sighted decisions that will negatively impact our ability to provide key services,” he said.
After hours of delay as council members worked on amendments to the spending plan, the council approved plans that could force Anne Arundel Community College to increase its tuition and give employees a 5 percent cut in pay.
Public schools were spared any further cuts beyond Leopold’s proposed $6 million spending decrease over last year. But the council delayed by two years construction of a new school building for Severna Park High, a move that sparked objections from Council Chairman Richard Ladd, a Republican representing the area.
Instead, the council voted to fund construction projects at six elementary schools. Changes to the construction schedule bring it back in line with the county’s school construction priority list. Leopold had pushed Severna Park ahead of the elementary schools last year.
“We can’t afford to have the government that we have,” said (Councilmember)Fink. “We can’t continue to fund the budget using a band-aid approach … there has to be some real structural cuts to the budget.”