Annapolis Alderman Carl O. Snowden has vowed to fight proposed cutbacks in city bus service, saying they would hurt the poor and elderly most.
"This would be just disastrous for people who depend on these buses as their only means of transportation," Snowden said of MayorAlfred A. Hopkins' plan to reduce service.
Under Hopkins' plan, the number of buses would be cut from four to two on Saturday and from two to one on Sunday and 7 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Sunday service would be eliminated from 8 to 10 a.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m.
Administration officials called the cutbacks unavoidable because of an unusually tight city budget and a $64,000 reduction in state spending for the deficit-ridden bus service.
Snowden, however, strongly disagreed and abstained from voting on the city budget last month as a protest.
He failed in his bid to cut $46,000 from the city's public information and tourism budget to restore most bus service. But he won assurances from Hopkins that the administration wouldn't cut service before returning to the City Council.
Snowden said he would offer specifics tonight on how the transportation cutbacks could be avoided at a time when the city is struggling to make ends meet.
Some of the state money could be restored this fall when the Mass Transit Administration finds out how much it will receive. City officials say they'll reinstate some bus routes ifthe state restores any of the $64,000.
Hopkins, who plans to announce the cutbacks tonight, said he also has asked County Executive Robert R. Neall whether the county would chip in money to avoid reductions. Hopkins called Neall's response "very encouraging" and said the executive would decide on the request by this fall.
The mayor cameup empty last year when he asked former County Executive O. James Lighthizer for about $180,000 to help keep the bus service afloat.
The bus service has lost money every year since the city bought it from a private owner 18 years ago and now faces an estimated $1 million deficit, Hopkins said.
"It's getting to be a very, very serious expense, and we just can't afford every year to get deeper and deeper in debt," he said.
Several City Council members have said the city must scrutinize its transportation system, market the bus service better and push more aggressively for support from the county and state.
Aldermen point out that state and county employees, along with visitors to Annapolis, often rely on city buses, and some routes cross city lines into the county. But the city alone must now bear the cost.
In other business tonight:
* The council's Rules Committee isscheduled to begin voting on a series of proposed election reform and campaign finance measures. One of them would place a $500 limit on contributions to a candidate or political committee from any individual or organization during each four-year election cycle.
* A resolution asking the U.S. Postal Service to limit Annapolis ZIP codes to properties within the city will be introduced by the council's Economic Matters Committee. Ellen O. Moyer, D-Ward 8, who heads the committee, says businesses and communities beyond the city's borders often benefit from a prestigious Annapolis address without paying city taxes.
"The idea behind this is to keep other places outside of the city, like Parole, from trading on Annapolis' name without giving anything back to the city," Moyer said.
* The council will hear testimony on a plan to build eight town houses near Hilltop Lane and MerrymanRoad. Some nearby residents oppose the plan, proposed by Kinder Associates.
The Rules Committee meets at 6 p.m. in City Hall on Duke of Gloucester Street.
The full council meeting follows, at 7:30.