Anne Arundel Approves Budget, Property Tax Rate Increases

The Anne Arundel County Council approved the $1.2 billion FY 12 spending plan, including a property tax increase, decreased funding to the county’s community college and delays in school construction. The  tax hike, proposed by County Executive John R. Leopold, places an additional  3-cents per tax  $100 of assessed value, estimated to generate $80 million over the next four years. The Baltimore Sun reports:

With an eye toward long-term stability as the county continues to suffer the fiscal consequences of the recession, the council also moved to shore up its reserves. The plan directs about $5 million in budget savings to the rainy day fund and another $5 million to the county’s contingency fund.

The council also approved Leopold’s plan for the county’s first layoffs in two decades, cutting 35 employee positions that are vacant and 14 that are now filled. All county employees would be furloughed for 12 days, amounting to a pay cut of about 5 percent.

But the council also rejected some of Leopold’s most prized projects, including a complete rebuilding of Severna Park High School, which the executive had bumped to the top of the county school system’s construction priority list. The council delayed the Severna Park project by two years and replaced it with funding for construction at six county schools.

Council members stripped the community college of $5.2 million in funding — about 15 percent of the college’s total budget. In addition, the county’s contribution to the county workers’ health insurance fund will decrease by about $8 million, though county officials said there will be no negative effect on employees. The council also voted to prohibit department heads from using county vehicles and to prevent the county Police Department from purchasing new police cruisers.

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