Prince George’s County Executive Pushes Budget Plan to Fund Schools

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is holding a series of community meetings to garner support for his FY 2016 proposed budget, which will increase taxes to provide an additional $133 million for the county’s school system. As reported by the Gazette,

“Everyone wants their property values to go up. That doesn’t happen without great schools, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying,” Baker said to a gathering of approximately 80 people April 14 at Capitol Heights Elementary School. “This isn’t a tax increase, it’s an investment.”

Baker is pursuing public support for his proposed budget, which includes property and telecommunications tax hikes expected to provide an additional $133 million for the school system above the current year budget.

School system Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell said that additional funding will be used to fund competitive teacher pay, arts and language education, pre-kindergarten expansion, digital literacy and other improvements.

To provide the additional funding, the proposed budget would override a voter approved tax cap that was put in place in 1978. As the county press release on the budget describes,

In FY 2016, real property tax receipts are projected to total $776.5 million, an increase of $127.0 million or 19.6% over the FY 2015 budget. The growth is primarily due to the FY 2016 education revenue package which recommends a $0.15 increase in the real property tax rate from $0.96 to $1.11 per $100 of assessable value in FY 2016.    The County is authorized to increase the real property tax rate based on Chapter 6 of the 2012 Laws of Maryland (Senate Bill 848).  This law allows the County’s property tax rate to be set higher than the rate authorized under the County’s charter.  The bill requires that any additional revenue generated as a result of the higher property tax rate is for the sole purpose of funding the approved budget of the local school system.  The proposed rate adjustment is expected to generate an additional $104.9 million for the school system.  Excluding the additional revenue assigned to the system, the County’s real property tax revenues are projected to increase by $22.1 million or 3.4% in FY 2016 from the FY 2015 budget.

The total county FY 2016 proposed budget is $3.63 billion, a 6% increase compared to the current fiscal year. The general fund would account for 84% of spending. Budget growth is mainly due to proposed rate increases to the real property, personal property, telecommunications and hotel tax rates.

The proposed budget is premised on achieving three primary objectives: (1) achieving academic improvements in K-12 education across all public schools, (2) maintaining the County’s commitment to providing a full range of public services and (3) ensuring our long-term financial integrity.  With these objectives as the foundation, the FY 2016 presented fiscal plan has a combination of spending increases and reductions which include revenue provisions. To watch the Proposed FY 2016 Budget presentation and for more resources and information please go to http://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/sites/OMB/Resources/Bgt16/Pages/default.aspx.

Additional information on the proposed FY 2016 budget can be found on the county’s website.

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