Harford County leaders presented a united front Monday opposing Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal to shift part of the cost of .
County Executive , Sheriff L. , Superintendent of schools and , president of the Harford County Board of Education, each spoke briefly arguing against the proposal during a press conference Monday afternoon.
The proposed shift in pension costs is part of the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2012 laid out by O'Malley.
Craig said Harford County will incur $9.8 million in added costs if the proposal is approved and that the cost would increase to $14.7 million by 2017.
Craig said the cost for teacher pensions would eat the entire county budget for fire and EMS services, the department of housing, the health department and other county services.
“It would be a wipe-out for us and every other county,” Craig said.
Craig went on to say that while there are offsets in the O'Malley plan to pay for the pension costs, those offsets are unrealistic and will have little impact on Harford County.
"Claiming that you're balancing the budget by shifting the cost to someone else is disingenuous to say the least," Craig said during the press conference.
He likened the proposed shift to offering your child a credit card during college and promising to pay for it, then halfway through, deciding you can't and telling your second child to pay for it instead.
Bane said the downturn in the economy has already left the sheriff's office with a limited budget.
"While I’ve been creative, I’ve been struggling to hold the line on crime," Bane said.
The sheriff said the national average is 2.7 officers to every 1,000 people in the community, but the Harford County Sheriff's Office is operating well below that average with .8 officers to every 1,000 people.
"I have cut all I can in my operating expenses I have nothing left to cut but personnel," Bane said.
Tomback said it is not only local decisions that drives state retirement costs, and the proposal comes at a time when school systems are gearing up to implement programs such as the federal education program, Race to the Top.
"That’s why we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the county executive today in opposition of the pension shift," Tomback said.
Wheeler said he opposes the budget act because it would set the county back.
"We went through great pains to protect this institution of education, we passed laws to do that," Wheeler said.
Susan Lesser, an official with the Maryland State Education Association, stood in for Harford County Education Association president Randy Cerveny and edorsed Wheeler's sentiment.
"We’re very very concerned about the students, about the employees and the effect this is going to have on education," Lesser said.
Ten other people representing county services that would be impacted by the pension cost shift stood in support behind the podium during the pess conference.