Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has approved spending cuts to close a $15.8 million gap in the county's budget this fiscal year.
The reductions, according to Kittleman's office, will come primarily from a hiring freeze on non-essential vacant positions as well as by eliminating or postponing several one-time purchases that would have been made with money from the county's PAYGO fund, which is supported by budget surpluses from previous fiscal years.
Kittleman said in a statement that the cuts were fashioned to have "the least amount of negative impact on residents.
"Taking these steps now will head off more serious consequences later this year and in subsequent fiscal years," he said.
Howard's budget shortfall is the result of lower-than-expected income and recordation tax revenues this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Kittleman asked department heads in December to submit recommendations on how to reduce spending by 5 percent. The county is required by its charter to have a balanced budget.
Although additional details about the cuts were not immediately available, Deidre McCabe, the county's director of communications, said that some departments would be seeing bigger reductions than others.
"It's not equal across the board," McCabe said, noting that some departments were much smaller than others and had fewer resources to spare. A significant percentage of the cuts would impact the Department of Public Works, which handles many of the county's PAYGO projects, she said.
Other savings could come from expenditures on computers, office equipment, non-critical staff training and a pilot street lighting conversion program, according to the county.
Kittleman's plan does not use furloughs or layoffs to close the budget gap, and does not impact cost-of-living and step increases for employees, according to a press release.
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