Arundel budget cut keeps jobs Fire reorganization to save $700,000


County fire officials have eliminated the rank of division chief as part of a reorganization of the department that is expected to save $700,000 a year, Executive Robert R. Neall said yesterday.

But the move won't cost anyone's job because six of the county's seven division chiefs left the department last summer through an early retirement program.

The remaining division chief has been reclassified to fill a vacant battalion chief's position, officials said.

Mr. Neall has said he expects to save $2 million a year by not filling positions left vacant by employees who took advantage of the early retirement program.

A total of 149 employees retired by the deadline of Aug. 14, and county officials say they hope to leave vacant at least 50 of those jobs.

But the county was forced to hire some new employees immediately to replace 55 police officers and 32 firefighters and avoid jeopardizing public safety.

Three other positions -- those of an inspector, a civilian communications operator and a records office employee -- were eliminated because the employees either retired or were reclassified.

County administration officials said they hope to use the savings to offset part of an expected $15 million cut in state aid.

They presented a menu of possible budget cuts to County Council members Monday night, none of which have been finalized.

County Budget Officer Steven E. Welkos said that none of the cuts will be decided until the state legislature determines how much each subdivision will lose in the expected cut of $150 million in state aid to local governments.

Among the plans being considered is a proposal offered by Mr. Neall for the counties to begin paying for the Social Security taxes for teachers, community college professors and librarians, which are now paid by the state.

Under that plan, Anne Arundel County would lose about $14.4 million.

Included in the county's contingency plan was:

* $13 million in surplus from last fiscal year's budget and the delay of "pay-as-you go" capital projects.

* $2 million from the Early Retirement Incentive Savings Program.

* $1 million from a hiring freeze on all county employees.

* $800,000 from a contingency account in the chief executive officer's budget; county officials would prefer to save this for snow removal.

* $600,000 from community promotion grants to arts organizations.

* $500,000 from delaying the start-up of certain programs in the county Health Department.

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