NO GASPS OR hand-wringing, please, from those in Prince George's who led the fight to continue TRIM and who now are bemoaning the sour fiscal result of their labors. Deep budget cuts are coming--believe it--and they can stash any hopes for state or federal bail-outs. By insisting on keeping TRIM, the unrealistically flat dollar ceiling on property tax revenues, voters may have thought they could live by bread alone; they will, and the slices are going to be thinner and thinner.
Certainly last fall's TRIM sales force can't seriously blame County Executive Parris Glendening for the layoffs and other harsh budget moves he is now announcing. Mr. Glendening campaigned loudly and clearly for modest relief from TRIM's restrictions; but he won, and the proposal didn't. Since then, Mr. Glendening has lobbied hard in Annapolis for approval of a number of relief measures, including a one-cent local sales tax that Gov. Hughes and leaders of the state legislature promptly brushed aside as unpassable; and increases in the personal property tax, which affects business, and the county's surcharge on the state income tax, proposals that so far have failed to generate any great sympathy from the lawmakers.
After all, why should the legislators now pass the hat and shortchange their own constituents to help Prince George's overcome its financial starvation? Mr. Glendening says he is staring at a huge deficit, and he is imposing a hiring freeze on county jobs, elimination of all cost-of-living increases for county employees next year and the dropping from next year's budget of any financing for jobs now vacant.
So look for a smaller police force; fewer inspections of restaurants and construction projects; more public school classes with 40 to 50 students; and a gradual shrinking of staff and services in all departments. This is all part of that "lean government" that the die-hard TRIM preservers promised--and delivered. When will it wear thin enough to prompt repeal?