The Prince George’s County
Council unanimously adopted a balanced $2.85 billion FY2015 County Budget, (Council
Bill 34-2014), on Tuesday, May 27. The new spending plan becomes effective with
the new Fiscal Year, beginning July 1, 2014.
This budget adoption
represents my third budget cycle on the Council. I am proud of the open,
inclusive and transparent budget process that this legislative body conducted,
which produced a new County spending plan committed to community investments
and our shared priorities for economic growth and transit-oriented development;
education and job training; and public safety and transportation.
I agree with Council
Chairman Mel Franklin that this budget “moves Prince George’s County forward.” The
FY15 approved budget is good news for Prince George’s County and District 6
communities. Through leadership and integrity, I worked with my colleagues
through our committees to overcome fiscal challenges created by the lasting
impact of the national housing crisis, on ongoing structural deficit and a fragile
economic recovery, and we delivered a balanced budget that meets our needs
without turning to furloughs or layoffs of County workers.
our highest priority, with 63% of available County resources dedicated to
education in FY15—a 6.4% increase over the previous year. In addition, the adopted Fiscal Year
2015-2020 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which reflects my commitment to
key infrastructure improvement projects, will renovate Central, Forestville,
and Largo high schools and bring these District 6 school buildings into
compliance with the Secondary School Reform (SSR) Initiative, which aims to
ensure that all students will be college and/or career ready. Funding has also
been made available to support a planning study for a Pre-K through 8th
grade school in Fairwood.
The Council ensured that an
additional $4 million would support Prince George’s Community College, located
in District 6. This funding will provide
for the dual enrollment of as many as 1500 additional County high school students
as a part of the College and Career Readiness Completion Act; healthcare
training and education in conjunction with the County’s anticipated health care
expansion related to the new Regional Medical Center and the expansion of
Southern Maryland Hospital; and additional scholarships.
Our young people can also
celebrate this budget and our growing commitment to summer job opportunities
for them. This Council has made
incremental investments in this initiative over the years, and in FY 15, we included
another $1 million over and above the County Executive’s proposal to support
the County’s summer youth jobs program.
safety, the second highest priority, received 20.3% of County
funds in FY15. The adopted spending plan funds an additional class of
firefighter recruits and three new classes of police recruits, to meet the
growing needs of our communities. The budget also provides for $500,000 in
funding for a three-bay Fire/EMS station in the Beechtree community, and continuing
funding support for the construction of a four-bay Fire/EMS Station at a Shady
Glen location. The Council has provided
increases in public safety staffing and resources in each of the last three
years, contributing to record, historic lows in violent crime in the County,
but in FY15 we will also exercise our oversight responsibility to carefully monitor
overtime spending on a monthly basis.
Development is the key to expanding our commercial tax
base and reducing our heavy reliance on property taxes for revenue. Our balanced plan makes significant
investments in infrastructure to support transit-oriented development including
the areas around the Largo Metro station, and in pedestrian infrastructure to
keep our walkers safe.
recreation and preserving green space are priorities in the approved
FY 2015-2020 CIP, which includes resources for additions, rehabilitation, and
new construction for the Largo Town Center lake site; Walker Mill Regional
Park; Upper Marlboro Community Center; and Westphalia Neighborhood Park. This
program also establishes a $100,000 Westphalia Central Park Fund to receive
construction fees from new dwelling units within the Westphalia Sector Plan
area that will help build and maintain this signature regional park feature.
issues got focused attention in Fiscal Year 2015 as well. Positive strides are being made as we
continue to work toward the eventual closure of the Brown Station landfill as
the final destination in the County’s solid waste stream. The plan is to convert the site to more
sustainable activities such as the refinement of the County’s gas power
generation system, which will bolster the energy security and efficiency of
Prince George’s County by reusing the byproducts of our waste stream. Composting could lead the County to a desired
zero waste reality. Establishing a
strong systemic backbone to support this critical capacity makes a necessary
investment in the future of Prince George’s County.
District 6 is the largest by
population and among the largest district by land mass. We are truly a microcosm of Prince George’s
County. As a result of the adopted FY15
County Budget--a Quality of Life Spending Plan-- District 6 residents
stretching from Beechtree to District Heights and Capitol Heights will see more
of our residents, including our young people, with new opportunities to learn,
work and play in safer, more vibrant, and thriving communities.