250 in Howard attend follow-up on budget cuts


About 250 people turned out last night for a Howard County budget hearing that was a follow-up to one Wednesday that drew a crowd of more than 1,000. Most speakers have opposed proposals to cut the county budget by 16 percent and lay off 200 employees.

County Executive Charles I. Ecker sat on the stage at Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City last night as speaker after speaker expressed concerns.

James Kraft, a local Democratic Party activist, drew strong applause when he said, "There should be no layoffs."

Mr. Kraft, chairman of a newly formed group calling itself the Democratic Forum, recommended furloughs as a last resort instead.

Mr. Ecker, a Republican, has indicated the county must increase fees and taxes to produce additional revenue and reduce the county budget by $18 million or 16 percent.

The cuts, he said, "could mean the elimination of approximately 200 full- and part-time positions currently staffed by county employees" in addition to cutting 100 vacant positions.

The executive held the public hearings to receive the public's reaction before he submits his budget to the County Council next month.

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