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The Walk Back

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz isn't commenting on the governor's pension shift proposal, except to a local radio station but then again, he's not commenting.

Yesterday, Gov. Martin O'Malley's was a $50 million bill that the county had no say in.

Today it appears County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is walking back his concerns that were punctuated with dire hints of layoffs and furloughs or other budget costs.

Kamenetz Wednesday afternoon told Robert Lang, a WBAL radio reporter, how much of a hit the county actually takes is dependent upon whether the General Assembly passes other tax programs in the budget.

"It's really a $50 million bill," Kamenetz told Lang.

"Boy, that's a lot of money and we really have no say in it," he said. (Listen to Lang's interview with Kamenetz.)

The county executive hints in the interview that should the county take a large hit from the plan that layoffs or furloughs or other budget cuts could be on the table.

His interview with Lang was around the same time that a county spokeswoman was telling me that the county would defer comment to a later date.

"Our budget analysts are reviewing the proposal," said Ellen Kobler, adding that this would be the sum total of the county's statement on the issue Wednesday.

So hearing the differences, I called Don Mohler, Kamenetz's chief of staff who reiterated Kobler's comments.

"We're not going to weigh in on the issue this early in the process," said Mohler Thursday afternoon.

Mohler said Kamenetz has been "very consistent" in terms of his statements on the pension issue and was not walking anything back.

So what about the $50 million bill? The all options are on the table comments?

Mohler attributed that to Lang's timing.

"He caught the county executive coming out of a briefing on the issue," said Mohler. "He had just looked at the (spreadsheet) and didn't have a chance to talk to the county budget staff."

The sheet released to Kamenetz and other county executives was obtained earlier on Wednesday by Patch.

It shows that Baltimore County would have to come up with $2.9 million after the state provides some additional financial help to offset the costs. That's a far cry from the range of $10 million to $50 million Kamenetz talks about in his radio interview.

"It appears, from the governor's proposal, that the impact of this to the county is about $2.9 million," said Mohler on Thursday afternoon.

So do county budget officials agree with the governor's numbers?

Mohler would only say that the county preferred to not comment on the pension issue.

"Everything is fluid at this point," Mohler said.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

johnny towson January 19, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Damage Control. KK's concern is presenting a palatable 1 year budget and not addressing the County's fiscal problems. "He had just looked at the (spreadsheet) and didn't have a chance to talk to the county budget staff." Did Mohler just suggest that KK is not smart enough to grasp the cost of the pension shift even though the issue is 4 plus years old and has been considered by the County Council during KK's tenure on the Council? What has KK done? What is his vision? Someone please tell us. With all the financial messes facing our county, its teachers and employees, KK continues to step in it. The County needs leadership and help. I hope it quickly admits it is overburdened and under-qualified to meets its challenges. Its time has come to needs to accept the writing on the wall.
Calm down January 20, 2012 at 01:49 AM
To Johnny Hates Towson (and Kevin): You obviously have a grudge because you are always quick to criticize the Exec. I'm happy that Baltimore County has not furloughed employees, has not raised the tax rate, and still has a Triple Triple AAA bond rating. Kamenetz is doing a good job.
johnny towson January 20, 2012 at 03:36 AM
There is no hate, just intolerance... In your life its acceptable to lower expectations when confronting challenges, tread water and hope someone else figures it out... "good enough" makes sense to you... we are just different people. Peace.

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