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88 ex-workers calculate the real costs of layoffs


Steve Zumbrun isn't sure where he's going to live.

Zumbrun, 38, and his wife had decided to move from a town house in Perry Hall to a single-family home nearby. He said they'd picked out the house, agreed to put down a deposit and sold their town house.

But then County Executive Robert R. Neall's $634 million budget eliminated Zumbrun's $34,000-a-year job as an instructor at the Anne Arundel County Careers Center. Now he's not sure he can afford the new house on his wife's salary as a registered nurse.

He's one of four instructors at the Careers Center and one of 88 county employees whose jobs were slashed Friday by Neall's budget proposal. Neall said he's laying off workers for two reasons: to cut the county work force by 10 percent, and to eliminate jobs to pay for 93 new teachers.

Board of Education members said Neall is making education the scapegoat.

"The allegation that 80 county employees are being sacrificed to fund 93 teaching positions, it's ludicrous," said board member Maureen Carr-York. "To link the two is nonsense."

Of the 88 people who stand to lose their jobs, 42 could be hired by private firms that will be taking over some county functions, but there is no guarantee.

Walter Caldwell, 50, has worked as a plant operator at the Cox Creek wastewater treatment plant for 19 years. His wife, Beatrice, said he learned yesterday that his job is being abolished.

"He's gone to talk to somebody about the stress," his wife said. "You're talking 19 years, and trying to find another job. That's hard."

Those who stand to lose their jobs are clerical, administrative and blue-collar employees scattered throughout the 4,300-member work force.

Keren Dement, executive director of the Commission on Culture and the Arts, will be out of work. So will Undersheriff Patrick Ogle.

County Council members are uncomfortable with the layoffs. Though they have no power to restore the positions, some said they may try to persuade Neall to put the jobs back in the budget.

The 42 people who have a good chance of being retained work for the Office on Aging and the Manpower Office. Those two offices are being taken over by private sector firms that will need most of the same personnel.

Another eight school system employees were cut when Neall slashed $1.28 million for the Integrated School Information System, a computer system.

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