As city leaders begin work on the budget process amid a bleak economic situation, two of its aldermen are pushing for a hiring freeze across Annapolis government.
David H. Cordle Sr. and Frederick M. Paone, the city's Republican aldermen, introduced a resolution calling for a hiring freeze at least week's meeting and also requested a report on the city's contractual employees.
"What we're doing right now is expanding city government," Cordle said. "The mayor's hired a number of people, and she's trying to paint this rosy picture. We're expanding, and I don't think it's wise to be expanding our personnel budget at this time until we see how the financial picture's going to look and once we start putting this budget together."
Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said the city's finances are in good stead and called the hiring freeze proposal "premature."
"You're going to talk about a hiring freeze, you need to talk about actual number figures, money you're hoping to find," Moyer said. "If you're really going to be a good manager of the city's resources, those kinds of requests ought to be tied to something factual. We don't have the same type of revenue picture that the county and state have. We are not in the state of a huge deficit. We are not in bad shape."
The city currently employs nearly 600 people, and about 92 of those are contractual employees, according to city officials.
"I want department heads to justify why we have to have contractual workers, plus all the individual consultants," Cordle said. "Until we see where the finances of the city are actually going, in order to fund the upcoming budget, I think we need to be careful where we spend money."
Richard Israel, a Democratic alderman representing Ward one, said, "I just want to hear the discussion and hear what the Finance Committee has to say about it. Eighty-five percent of our costs are related to compensation for personnel, so we're going to have quite a challenge on our hands."
Moyer, a two-term mayor who leaves office next fall, said this subject was not raised in a meeting with the council on Dec. 13 on the budget. She said she thought Cordle, who has said he is considering running for mayor next year, was acting for political reasons.
"This is the kind of stuff that you track and you do ... not because you think it looks politically smart," Moyer said. "When you have a meeting with your aldermen, you expect if there are issues that they want more information on, there will be dialogue. Even though everyone is running for public office next year, it is important that we have some honesty, and that does require some level of give and take, not showmanship."
Cordle responded: "She's going to say that for anything I do. It's part of the territory. I don't let political figures guide doing what's right for the city. If you look at my history over the last seven years, I'm pretty consistent."