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In city's effort to cut back, many workers will lose jobs


Beginning today, about 140 fewer employees will work in Baltimore City government, with the Fire Department and the Office of Employment Development taking the brunt of the cuts.

Nearly a third of the workers were laid off late last year from the Office of Employment Development, the city agency that helps find work for residents on public assistance.

In the Fire Department, 75 positions were eliminated, most because of termination, attrition, retirements and reorganization.

Like most agencies, the Department of Public Works laid off employees in the name of reorganization. Five manager positions were abolished in that department, as were the previous four years.

This year's budget, which will be in effect until June 30, 1996, reflects the Schmoke administration's trend of slashing government jobs. In 1990, there were 27,993 jobs in city government. There are 26,271 jobs now.

More jobs were on the list to be eliminated this year, but were saved at the last minute when the Board of Estimates reinstated several positions Wednesday. Each year, just before the budget goes into effect, money surpluses are found within city agencies and are often used to fund positions that were on the list to be eliminated.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke says the employees are not being replaced, because the money collected from the city residents has remained flat.

"We don't go into [the budget process] saying we want to reduce by 400 or 300 this year," Mr. Schmoke said. "We just want to work within our means. So if the budget doesn't grow sufficiently to handle 26,000 employees, then we have to reduce down. But it's not a target because there is no optimal level of government that you want to achieve. I don't know any mayor that says 'I want a city government of 20,000 people and that's it.' "

Yesterday marked the actual layoff of only 10 employees. Most of the other layoffs were scheduled earlier in the year.

If retirements and attrition had not played such a large role in reducing the number of city workers, massive layoffs would have been needed, said the mayor's spokesman, Clinton R. Coleman.

"It was either that or we would have had to trim services or raise taxes," Mr. Coleman said.

Some of the other departments hit by the shrinking budget include the Law Department, which lost six positions, the Comptroller's office which lost five employees, and the Museum of Art, which also lost five positions.

A few departments, including the police, gained positions.

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