Bobo establishes advisory panel on Howard spending


Howard County Executive Elizabeth Bobo, whose spending policies have come under fire from her Republican rival in the upcoming general election, said yesterday that she has appointed an advisory committee to give her guidance on operating-budget spending.

A similar proposal was in the platform of Charles I. Ecker, a retired educator who won the GOP nomination for county executive Tuesday night by a margin of more than 2-to-1.

Ms. Bobo, however, said the spending advisory committee was "a natural outgrowth" of a similar committee she formed four years ago to make recommendations on spending on capital improvements.

The executive said she had discussed the proposal previously with James Clark Jr., a former state senator from Columbia who is one of Ms. Bobo's political advisers and will serve on the new committee.

"Any level of government has to be careful about spending and needs to see where it is going," Mr. Clark said. "It is a natural followup on the bond affordability committee and should serve the county well."

Ms. Bobo said Gov. William Donald Schaefer is sending the local governments "a clear message that more spending responsibilities will be shifted to the local jurisdictions," noting that it was possible that local governments might be asked to pick up some of the cost of teacher pensions.

In addition to Mr. Clark, the committee will include Susan R. Buswell, a former member of the House of Delegates and county school board; John H. Powers, president of BiClinical Systems Inc.; Anthony Willoughby, vice president and comptroller of Bendix Field Engineering Corp.; County Administrator Buddy Roogow; County Budget Officer Raymond S. Wacks, and County Auditor Ronald S. Weinstein.

Mr. Ecker has chided Ms. Bobo for her spending policies during the first four years of her first term, calling her management of the government "inept."

He maintains that there has been a 40 percent increase in new government positions, and that spending has risen by "88 percent during her four years when inflation and the population increased less than 20 percent each."

In other announcements, Ms. Bobo said she "gladly" will accepMr. Ecker's invitation to debate the issues at three public forums in the county. She said she will ask Mr. Ecker to tell the public exactly where he would cut the budget.

The executive also said she has hired Bill Toohey, who has been director of public information for the Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development, as the county press officer.

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