Budget requests exceed revenue by $13 million


If County Executive Charles I. Ecker were to fund everything asked for in the fiscal 1994 operating budget, he would have to raise the property tax rate 21 cents.

Mr. Ecker raised the property tax rate 14 cents to $2.59 per $100 of assessed value in his first year in office and does not want to raise it again. He is expected to tell residents attending a 7:30 p.m. budget hearing in the county office building today that the only way to balance the fiscal 1994 budget without raising taxes is to trim departmental requests.

Department heads have asked for $294 million in operating funds for the coming year. Their requests exceed projected revenue by $13 million and do not include money for salary increases.

"These continue to be difficult times, and there are tough choices to make," Mr. Ecker said in a budget message he intends to give to residents tonight. "Our revenue situation remains uncertain, but hopeful. The economy has started to improve, but it is not yet clear how strong or how long the final recovery will be."

If tonight's meeting follows form, people will be asking Mr. Ecker to keep their favored projects and cut someone else's.

More than half of the $294 million request comes from the Board of Education. The board wants $150 million -- a $12.9 million increase over this year.

Much of the increase would be used to hire school administrators, staff and 96 new teachers for two new schools. The increase would also be used to cover added Social Security costs and the cost of a salary increase for teachers and other eligible employees that was approved but not paid in the fiscal 1993 budget.

The Police Department wants $2 million more this fiscal year to open a sub-station in Scaggsville and replace 25 cars.

The Corrections Department seeks a $631,920 increase to help cover start-up costs associated with the expansion of the detention center. The department wants to hire 27 new correctional officers and four new civilian employees.

The Public Works Department wants $2.7 million more to expand the recycling program to every single-family home in the county. The department also wants to begin a wood mulching program and add recycling programs for household hazard waste and tires.

Mr. Ecker will winnow the requests and submit a proposed operating and a proposed capital budget in April to the County Council.

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