Panel wants to add to city budget

The Baltimore Sun

The City Council finance committee is proposing nearly $1 million in additional expenditures to the city's $81 million operating budget, including the restoration of nonprofit grant money and the hiring of new employees.

The increased funding is contingent on the passage of a proposal before the Anne Arundel County Council for an increase from 7 percent to 10 percent in the hotel tax.

But the City Council and Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer have discussed the possibility of a 1 percent budget cut across all departments to fund the recommendations.

"We heard from the community," said Alderwoman Classie Gillis Hoyle, a Democrat representing Ward 3 and the chairwoman of the finance committee. "We decided to go ahead and put money in these accounts."

In addition to $433,000 in funding to various nonprofit organizations, the recommendations would add several employees to the city's roster.

These would include a City Council auditor making $75,000 annually; an election administrator to be paid $61,500; a housing inspector at the Department of Neighborhood and Environmental programs who would be paid $51,500; and a part-time administrative assistant for the council to be paid $10,000.

Also in the recommendations would be $75,000 in contract services for a blue ribbon commission to study city finances and fiscal services for the City Council.

There are also $65,000 in funds for salaries and $150,000 for benefits at the Fire Department, which would implement a year earlier than planned a fourth shift for firefighters, saving the city an estimated $400,000 in overtime.

The budget changes were introduced to the full City Council at Monday night's meeting. The proposed fiscal year 2009 budget, which Moyer introduced in March, is set for a vote Monday.

Moyer had eliminated nonprofit funding in the budget, and instead boosted funding for law-enforcement efforts by more than $1 million - allocating $500,000 for security cameras in high-crime areas and the creation of an Office of Youth & Community Action.

"Everybody wants to be everything to everybody," Moyer said. "We're not in a terrible, terrible deficit situation. And I think, over time, we'll be able to meet much of the things that are in the finance committee's recommendations for change."

Hoyle said the council made no recommendations to change the mayor's police budget.

"We're going to allow the new police chief his proposals, and we'll go from there," Hoyle said.

Stanford Erickson, a co-chairman of Annapolitans United Against Crime, praised the additional money for crime but criticized increases in salaries and funding for new positions.

Alderman Julie N. Stankivic has also introduced an amendment to the budget that would increase fees for several services provided by the Department of Public Works.

Moyer called Stankivic's proposed fee increases "exorbitant."

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