Harford County Budget Discussions Heat Up as Adoption Deadline Approaches

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As reported by the Baltimore Sun (limited free views available), budget discussions are heating up in Harford County as education advocates urge council members to fully fund the Board of Education’s request in the County’s Fiscal 2014 budget.

With time running out in the budget review process, the 1 percent pay increase the teachers union negotiated earlier this year with the Harford County Board of Education appears to be in jeopardy after Harford County Executive David Craig declined to fund the entire increase of $21.2 million requested by the school board from the county for next year’s budget.

About $7.7 million of the additional funding requested by the school system would be used to fund cost of living raises of 1 percent, plus annual step raises that typically average 3 percent for a majority of the school system’s 5,300 employees.

The Council could take action to restore all or part of the Board of Education’s request, but that would result in cuts being made elsewhere in the budget.

The council would also have to negotiate the political minefield of making budget cuts to pay one segment of the public workforce, while denying increases to county employees, including those who work in law enforcement. Craig, citing economic conditions and the cost of fulfilling state mandates, said he could not propose pay increases for county employees next fiscal year, and the council has no power to make him spend money on them unless he first agrees to it.