Changes benefit 2 schools


Relief is on the way for students at two crowded elementary schools in Pasadena and Severn as a result of a compromise yesterday between the Anne Arundel County Council and County Executive John G. Gary.

Mr. Gary proposed and the council unanimously approved "technical" changes to a $950 million spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The changes bring the budget into balance, as required by law, said County Financial Officer John R. Hammond, the executive's chief budget analyst.

That ensures that money will be available to begin planning this summer for additions at Jacobsville and Ridgeway elementaries.

The administration was concerned Friday when the council cut $1.2 million from the bureaucracy and attempted to transfer the money to several school construction projects. Administration officials had feared that the council's cuts had thrown the budget out of balance because revenues exceeded expenditures. The changes approved yesterday resolve similar discrepancies in the county's separate trash disposal and utility funds.

Council members initially had resisted making any changes. They asserted Wednesday that the budget they adopted late Friday was legally balanced.

Explaining yesterday's vote, Council President Diane R. Evans, a Republican from Arnold, said, "Anytime we can improve on something that's a plus for everybody.

"Would it have been OK if we hadn't done anything? We think so," Mrs. Evans said. "This kind of ensures that everything is in order."

The executive offered the council two separate packages of changes, known as supplemental budgets, late Wednesday.

The first, the one the council ultimately approved, consisted entirely of housekeeping proposals. The second would have used developer fees and debt to finance the school additions and roof repairs, while using two-thirds of the money cut from the bureaucracy to repair county roads.

The remainder of the money would have financed additional positions previously cut from the executive's budget, including a coordinator for a proposed career training center for wayward youth and an assistant to the county executive.

"We thought it was productive to give the council a couple of alternatives to choose from as long as they all cured the problem," Mr. Hammond said.

Councilman Bert Rice, a Republican from Odenton, said he "could have lived with either one of them."

"But my comfort level with option A was a little higher," Mr. Rice said. "It pretty much left us with what we decided to do Friday."

Councilman James E. "Ed" DeGrange, a Glen Burnie Democrat, agreed, saying there was too little time to consider the second proposal.

"A question kind of rises in the back of your head: What's really in there?" he said. "I felt comfortable with this because there was nothing hiding in any dark corners."

Other council members said they might have approved the second proposal if the executive had suggested it Friday before they approved the budget.

Although the council and Mr. Gary's aides negotiated throughout Friday on a supplemental proposal, Mr. Gary ultimately decided not to offer one that night.

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