DEAN L. Johnson showed he wasn't allergic to compromise as he crafted his first budget as Annapolis mayor. He won't have money for certain neighborhood improvements, renovations or fire sprinklers for City Hall, or a comprehensive transportation plan, but city employees will receive pay raises of 2 percent, public bathrooms at City Dock will accommodate handicapped hTC users and some neglected infrastructure will be repaired.
Mr. Johnson's initial proposal did not include pay raises for city workers, an omission that mocked the mayor's praise for public workers in his State of the City speech several weeks ago.
At least one faction of the council, led by Alderwoman Sheila M. Tolliver in Ward 2, sought a 4-percent raise for employees while maintaining the current tax rate of $1.68 per $100 of assessed property value. That would have eliminated most of Mr. Johnson's proposed initiatives.
Realizing that a majority was close to forming on the council in favor of tearing up his budget to fund the pay increases, Mr. Johnson retreated. He incorporated some of Mrs. Tolliver's proposals and garnered the votes to pass the budget.
The council seems to have recognized that years of austere budgets have taken their toll on the state capital. Long-awaited renovations to the Stanton Community Center will be financed. Sewer repairs and maintenance will receive twice the amount in recent budgets. The council also resisted the political urge to cut $100,000 for replacing worn-out city vehicles, understanding that a dump truck that's in the shop as often as it's working does Annapolitans no good.
To pay for the $42.5 million spending package, the city property tax rate will rise 2 cents to $1.70. The average homeowner's tax bill will increase by about $11.
Although a majority on the council is new, the body did an admirable job on the budget. No one side can claim total victory, but it was an impressive first effort by Annapolis' mayor and council.
Pub Date: 6/03/98