BULLETIN: Cecil County Council Votes to Endorse Most of County Exec’s Budget; Majority Rejects Cuts to Cops, Schools, EMS
The Cecil County Council voted late Thursday afternoon in Elkton to support most of County Executive Tari Mooreâ€™s Fiscal 2014 budget proposal, repeatedly rejecting proposals by Councilors Diana Broomell (R-4) and Michael Dunn to (R-3) to slash money for county public schools, public safety and public works projects.
The votes showed the intentions of the majority of the Council on a wide range of budget issues but are not yet final or binding. The Council must adopt a county budget in a formal legislative session on Tuesday 5/21/13, and some of the amendments voted down on Thursday could be presented again. But on most points, the intent of the majority was clear and few if any changes are expected.
Most tallies came on a 3-2 vote, with Council President Robert Hodge (R-5), Vice President Alan McCarthy (R-1) and Councilor Joyce Bowlsbey (R-2) voting together to oppose the spending cuts endorsed by Broomell and Dunn. Hodge brought a list of possible cuts to the meeting as possible lesser reduction alternatives but he didnâ€™t offer most of them when the Broomell-Dunn proposals were defeated.
The key decisions made by the Council Thursday were:
–Endorsement of the hiring of five additional Sheriffâ€™s deputies, after rejecting a Dunn motion to delete all five positions. A Broomell motion to limit the new hires to three deputies died without getting a second supporter to bring it to a vote.
–Endorsement of the Executiveâ€™s budget proposal for the countyâ€™s public schools, which includes $3.6 million above the bare minimum, state-mandated â€śmaintenance of effortâ€ť level of county funding. The Council rejected a motion by Dunn to cut the schools back to the maintenance of effort level of county aid. Broomell agreed with Dunn but the other three Councilors refused to go along.
–Support for hiring two additional paramedics for the three county government operated â€śadvanced life supportâ€ť ambulance stations to handle rising call volumes.
–Endorsement of a $1.5 million expenditure in the capital improvement budget to acquire up to date software and computers to upgrade an eight-year old computer-assisted dispatch system that will serve county police, fire and ambulance services, including volunteer fire companiesâ€™services.
–Refusal to hire a â€ścounty auditorâ€ť reporting to the County Council, a new job position long advocated by Broomell. Instead, the Council decided, on a motion by McCarthy, to set aside $25,000 for the council to hire independent experts and consultants on an as-needed basis to advise the Council on complex issues.
–Tied on whether to proceed with construction of safety and roadway improvements leading to the Old Elk Neck Bridge in North East. Hodge recused himself since he owns property in the area. When the rest of the Council deadlocked 2-2, Broomellâ€™s motion to kill the road improvements failed, with the result that Mooreâ€™s budget proposal still stands.
Cecil Times, which was the only media representative attending the more than three hour session, will file a full updated report laterâ€”including some of the rhetorical drama, gavel pounding, etc.