D.C. City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers said yesterday that nearly 800 persons were brought onto the city's payroll during the first month of Mayor Marion Barry's hiring freeze. But Rogers said that the hirings will not affect Barry's target of eliminating 677 city jobs through attrition by Sept. 30.
Rogers said that 793 new employes -- not 785 as reported earlier by D.C. Controller Al Hill -- joined the city's work force in March.
Rogers said 211 of these workers received job commitments in February but did not begin working until March. He said it would have been "grossly unfair" not to go through with those hirings, even in light of the freeze.
He said the salaries of 452 of the remaining 582 employes are being paid through federal grants, such as the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program.
All but 11 of the rest, Rogers said, either were hired by departments not directly under the mayor's control -- the school system, D.C. General Hospital and the University of the District of Columbia -- or are speicifically exempted from the freeze, such as revenue-producing and health-care positions.
Rogers defended the administration's decision to take on the 793 new employes while at the same time going through with plans to lay off other city workers. A total of 155 lay-off notices have already been delivered, with 145 more scheduled for distribution tomorrow, and labor groups have charged that city employes are being made scapegoats for the District's financial problems.
"We have to reduce the work force," Rogers said. "I don't think anyone can explain rationally to someone who is losing his job that it's fair."
Rogers' statement at a news conference ended weeks of official silence from the administration on the effects of the hiring freeze. Barry and his top aides say they intend to prepare a full report detailing the progress of the mayor's agency cutbacks, which are designed to help avoid a projected budget deficit of $172.4 million.
The District has come under repeated criticism from Congress, federal agencies and the local business community for having too many employes and relatively more administrative employes than other cities.
Rogers said the administration still believes its program to balance the budget will succeed; despite speculation that the recent downturn in Washington's economy might throw off the city's revenue estimates.
"We are still on target," Rogers said. "If the economy turns down further, I don't know."