In a prepared statement read Thursday afternoon, County Executive David Craig assured the residents of Harford County, employees of the county, and the 34 workers who have lost, or will soon lose, their jobs that “we will get through this.”
In announcing that 34 employees have or will be terminated by the end of the week, Craig hinted there could be even more layoffs from outside agencies – including the library system, health department, and State’s Attorney’s Office.
Craig also warned that the budget cuts would affect more than just those who lost their jobs.
“Others will be more subtle – a delay in getting a permit, a slower response to a hazmat call, a library computer that cannot be accessed, a trail that will not be monitored, a longer trip to drop off recycling, a jury trial delayed, a playground that will not be updated,” he said.
For those wondering, Craig also said he wasn’t immune and pointed out his own office cut its budget by 20%.
And in no uncertain terms, Craig fired a missive directly at those he blames for the extended budget cuts.
“We will comply with the budget cuts directed by the county council.”
Below is the full text of Craig’s address:
County Executive David Craig Addresses Additional
Cuts to Harford County FY 2010 Budget
Remarks from Press Conference of June 18, 2009
Why? It is a simple question.
Why? Why do people choose to live in Harford County?
Why? Why do people who were born here choose to stay here?
Why? Why do people choose to move here?
I believe that the answer is as simple as the question. They choose to stay here and choose to move here because they like the quality of life here. They believe as I believe that Harford County is a great place to live and raise a family.
They know that we have great schools. They know that we have a great library system. They know that we have safe communities.
They know that we have excellent parks and fields. They know that they receive excellent public services.
An equally simple question.
Who cares that when someone calls 911 that the call will be answered by a well trained county employee; who will dispatch the needed service ? an ambulance, a fire truck, a deputy sheriff, a hazmat crew. Who cares that a special needs adult, the son or daughter of a family member, or friend will receive adequate services? Who cares that a drug dependent friend will receive adequate counseling?
Who cares that a person trying to get to work without a car will find adequate bus service? Who cares that the restaurant you visit on a Friday after a long week will be adequately inspected? Who cares that they can participate in one of the best recycling programs in the State? Who cares children will have adequate recreation opportunities?
Who cares that in these tight economic times adequate job training will be provided to your neighbors who want to keep their homes and pay their taxes?
The answer is simple ? I care. I care.
I care that all Harford Countians will have access to public libraries.
I care that we provide adequate assistance to farmers who need assistance with soil conservation. I care that women who are abused have adequate protection in court. I care that children without guidance at home have adequate counseling.
When I put the FY10 budget together I showed that I cared about the people who need services, as well as the people who pay taxes, as well as the people who provide the services. I showed that I cared by cutting $36 million from the General Operating Budget
without raising the tax rate and still support a tax cap cut and without cutting a single service or laying off a single employee. I showed that I cared by presenting a lean budget with the
largest reduction in the history of the county, a reduction of over 6%.
But, it was a budget that still maintained our schools, our public safety, our libraries, our public health.
I did this despite the fact that the State of Maryland cut services and revenues to Harford County to the tune of over $14 million.
Over the past three weeks we have faced a dilemma. Specific cuts were directed in the FY 10 budget by the body with the final say.
These were specific dollar reductions in specific departments and agencies.
These specific cuts do two things ? We will be required to reduce services and we will be required to lay off employees.
I must applaud the members of my administration as well as the leadership of our several unions for working diligently over the last three weeks to accommodate the council in meeting their very specific cuts. The average departmental cut is almost 12%, not the 5% that has been talked about. My own office has been cut over 20%.
Some of the services which will be cut have already been mentioned. Others will be more subtle ? a delay in getting a permit, a slower response to a hazmat call, a library computer that cannot be accessed, a trail that will not be monitored, a longer trip to drop off
recycling, a jury trial delayed, a playground that will not be updated.
These cuts will be real, not imagined.
And, I cannot understand why some people think that by slashing funding you can avoid cutting a service.
I can also not understand how people do not make the connections between the service provided and the employee who provides it.
These specific cuts will require the lay off of over 30 county employees.
And, since the cuts were specific to departments there was no flexibility. That number, 34, does not include layoffs in the library system, the health department, the State’s Attorney’s Office, or other outside agencies. That number – 34 ? represents real people doing real jobs providing real services.
The Human Resource Office will be meeting with those 34 people starting this afternoon and through Friday. We will be offering job training to each person. We will also be announcing the five furlough days which everyone, including me, will be taking ? five days on which no services will be provided except for public safety and water and sewer services.
We will comply with the budget cuts directed by the county council.
We will get through this.
On a final note I want to thank those 34 people who will be receiving the bad news today and tomorrow. They have been hard working and dedicated employees, your neighbors, your friends, and your true public servants.
I still care about them as people and about them as fellow workers.
They, and the services they provided, will be missed.
David R. Craig
Harford County Executive
June 18, 2009