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Harford Co. executive says she'll focus on maintaining a healthy budget


Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann offered few surprises in her State of the County address last night, pledging to maintain a fiscally conservative budget, as well as commitments to education and responsible development.

In a speech during a County Council meeting, Rehrmann reflected on the county's "guiding principles" of fiscal management -- including using one-time revenues for one-time projects. Those principles, she said, must be continued. "We have ended each budget year in the black with no end-of-the-year shortfalls or red ink," she said. "We will continue to do just that."

Rehrmann, who will hold a public hearing on budget priorities today, also offered highlights of the past six years of her administration. They include:

Creation of more than 1,000 jobs countywide and 453 jobs from business expansions.

A commitment of 54 cents of each dollar in the general operating budget to education, for a total of more than $500 million in the past six years.

A 43 percent increase in funding over the past six years to law enforcement, which has led to the hiring of 24 more officers, special child advocacy projects and a new police precinct in Edgewood.

Growth is a hot issue in Harford, where development is quickly changing the face of a once-rural county. Rehrmann said she would propose adding $750,000 to the budget for a farmland preservation program. " We must be bold and persistent with agricultural preservation," she said, noting that in the past year the program has preserved more than 3,000 acres.

Rehrmann discussed new projects, including a joint task force with school officials to fight drug abuse, a research library at Harford Community College, an auditorium/theater at Harford Technical High School and a modernized jail with 172 new beds.

"Citizen involvement, combined with detailed planning up front and acknowledgment of Harford's rural character will strengthen our foundation as we move toward the next century," Rehrmann said.

County Council President Joanne S. Parrott delivered the legislative address last night and praised Rehrmann for the spirit of cooperation between her and the council.

"There were areas where the county executive and I paralleled in our speeches," Parrott said. "I believe that shows we're all working together for the good of the county."

Pub Date: 2/12/97

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