Arundel budget OK'd for '94 Council includes 3% pay raise for county workers


The Anne Arundel County Council approved a $663 million budget last night that will provide a 3 percent pay raise to all county employees in fiscal 1994 and an 8-cent drop in the property tax rate.

The $5.6 million for the salary increase was made possible when the council approved enough of the cuts in the proposed $668.6 million operating budget that were advanced by County Auditor Joseph H. Novotny.

Teachers will get $3.2 million for salary increases, and other county employees will get the rest.

Amendments to the budget bill that provided the money for the salary increases were approved 5-2, with Carl G. Holland, R-Pasadena, and Diane Evans, R-Arnold, voting no. Councilman George Bachman, D-Linthicum, joined them in opposing one amendment that paid for part of the raises by diverting operating funds for capital projects.

The council also approved last night an amendment to lower the property tax rate by 8 cents to $2.38 per $100 of assessed value, 4 cents lower than that proposed by County Executive Robert R. Neall.

The effect of the amendment will be to lower slightly the average homeowner's property tax bill.

Mr. Novotny said his decision to offer the pay raises, which take effect Feb. 1, was motivated by a lawsuit, filed by the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, that seeks to recoup money the teachers lost last year when they were furloughed.

In addition, Mr. Neall sent a letter to council members yesterday morning saying he would consider offering pay raises to county employees in January after examining the county's financial situation.

In return for the pay raises, the teachers union agreed to drop its suit. "This is a money-saving kind of deal," Mr. Novotny told the council.

County Sheriff Robert G. Pepersack Sr.'s office will be fully funded under the spending plan, despite a recommendation from the auditor that the sheriff's budget be cut by $236,120 and that the position of undersheriff be eliminated.

The cuts would have nullified an agreement between the sheriff and Mr. Neall that provided the sheriff's office with $53,000 for the undersheriff's salary and 5 percent spending increases in the next two fiscal years. In turn, the sheriff promised not to exceed his budget, which he had done the past two years.

The council also accepted in part the auditor's recommendation that it cut $2.7 million in instructional salaries in the Board of Education's budget. It agreed to eliminate two assistant principals, 14 guidance counselors and 10 classroom aides, and took other cost-cutting measures that would save $2.045 million.

The council approved several big capital projects favored by the Neall administration, including a new Circuit Courthouse and funds to begin work on an eventual $71 million expansion of the Detention Center.

Last-minute maneuvers by North County council members Bachman and Edward Middlebrooks, D-Severn, resulted in the funding of a $13.5 million renovation of Andover Middle School in Glen Burnie.

But that project came at the expense of another, a new Solley Elementary School, which seemed a sure thing because state funding had already been approved. An added consequence could be the loss of 5 acres of land that a resident had agreed to donate for the school but vowed to take back if the project was not approved by July 1.

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