Council considers budget cuts, but many issues are unresolved

Baltimore County Council members looked yesterday at buying police officers fewer new flashlights and sending less trash out of the county. But it remained unclear whether proposed cuts in the $2.58 billion budget would be enough to address school crowding, fund an agricultural center and pay for salary increases of some police officers.

Council members are scheduled to look at cuts recommended by the county auditor in the school and community budgets tomorrow.


"It's a relatively lean budget," said Council Chairman Kevin Kamenetz. "It's going to be another long day."

The council is scheduled to adopt a budget next week and settle a dispute between the police union and County Executive James T. Smith Jr. over a restructuring of the pay scale that would give officers with more than nine years of experience 4 percent raises next year.


An arbitrator has recommended that the county pay for the raises, which would cost about $4 million. Other police contract issues are being considered by the council, such as which holidays will make officers eligible for holiday pay. Declaring the Fourth of July a paid holiday for officers would cost about $40,000, officials say.

The council will meet at 2 p.m. tomorrow to review the proposed school budget and possible cuts identified by the county auditor, and to consider the entire spending plan.

Council members are scheduled to adopt a budget at a 10 a.m. meeting May 22. They are also set to vote on several legislative proposals, including a bill that would require residential lots in the Middle River and White Marsh area to be larger.

Several residents spoke during yesterday's meeting in favor of the lot proposal by Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton-Overlea Democrat.

"Our goal is to maintain the charm of the area we have invested our finances and future in," said Timothy McCubbin, president of the Vincent Farm Bird River Neighborhood Association.

County lawmakers are also considering a proposal by Councilman Vincent J. Gardina to give tax credits to residents who build energy-efficient houses.

Under the proposal, the houses would have to meet U.S. Green Council Building standards known as LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - ratings.

"My hope is that with these incentives, public demand will increase and the national builders will start offering these homes," said Gardina, a Towson-Perry Hall Democrat.


The county offers tax credits for commercial buildings that meet LEED standards.