In preparation for presenting the proposed 2010 fiscal budget to the County Council, County Executive David Craig has recently sent a letter to county employees – foretelling the impact of the budget on their jobs and, presumably, softening the blow of an announced five-day furlough, spending uniform allowances, and adjusting work schedules to decrease overtime pay.
These likely unpopular changes were explained as being necessary to prevent layoffs, something other counties in Maryland are beginning to resort to.
Craig seemingly made it a priority to protect county employees from losing their jobs, citing the economy as a reason the county needed to take hits to protect its own workers.
“In a bad year like this, it is my committment to do everything I can to keep each of you employed,” Craig wrote.
“Knowing how hard it will be for any displaced employee to find a new job in this economy, I cannot accept layoffs as a measure of first resort. That may cause me to make choices that are unpopular, but in the end if it saves one job – it will have been worth it,” he continued.
The full text of the letter is below:
The letter also gives some insight into the upcoming budget, which the Craig boasts is $74 million less than the 2009 budget. Typically, a “decrease” in politics means that the budget grows at less than the rate of inflation, making a true decrease a rare accomplishment.
The federal budget has ballooned this century, increasing each year at a rate greater than whole decades in the past. The state budget has likewise grown greater than the rate of inflation. Overestimating revenue and underestimating costs has led to even higher deficits, and citizen spending watch groups often predict numbers very different from those of the executive department.
A decrease in spending in Harford would be especially exceptional given the increased burden the state is placing on counties, withdrawing state funding support for teacher pensions and passing on other costs to the county to try to balance the state budget. It is likely that such anticipated but unannounced expenses have caused the County Executive to further decrease the proposed budget.
The County Executive must annually prepare a budget for the following year. The budget is sent for a vote to the Council in April, where items can be removed or amounts amended.