Baltimore County Budget Prioritizes Education, Safety and Recreation

In conjunction with delivery of his State of the County Address, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz released his proposed fiscal 2018 budget, prioritizing quality education, school construction, public safety and recreation. The $3.15 billion budget requires no tax increases and assures the County maintains its AAA bond rating.

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More than $1.9 billion, or 60.4 percent of the entire operating budget, supports public schools, libraries and the Community College of Baltimore County. The operating budget includes funds to add 13 teachers to the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program and 15 more special education teachers. The capital budget accelerates construction of four elementary schools as part of the County’s Schools for our Future program, through which the county contributes two dollars for every State dollar dedicated to school construction. It also includes $7 million in planning and design funding for a new middle school in Perry Hall and a 200-300 seat addition at Pine Grove Middle School in Carney.

Targeting public safety, the budget includes $4.39 million for roll out of the Police Department’s new body camera program, which is scheduled for full implementation by the end of September 2017. Twenty-seven million dollars funds design for a new computer-aided dispatch and emergency communications system.

Baltimore County has funded a record $67.5 million in new parks, community centers and turf fields since 2010. The fiscal 2018 proposed budget includes $10.5 million in recreation funding, with $4.5 million dedicated to more than 90 maintenance and refurbishment projects throughout the county.

The county targets infrastructure system preservation by investing $470 million in the capital budget for upgrading water and sewer systems. The road resurfacing budget includes $38 million.

The budget requires no income or property tax rate increases, despite a $38 million decline in income tax revenue. Baltimore County has not increased its property tax rate for 29 years nor its income tax rate in 25 years. The county’s fund balance, or rainy day fund, will be 10.3 percent of revenue, or $205 million.

From the County Executive’s State of the County Address:

As county executive of Maryland’s third largest jurisdiction, I have the privilege to serve more than 830,000 residents who are committed to this place that we proudly call home.

Our dedicated government workers truly get the job done. They’re teaching in our classrooms, they are patrolling our streets, they are issuing permits and, sometimes, they are literally in the trenches. To all our government employees, for all of the ways you contribute to our success, thank you for serving our County well. Here’s more tangible acknowledgement of your hard work: The budget we are submitting today includes a 2% cost of living increase for all County employees, effective July 1.

The County Council is scheduled to vote on the budget May 25, 2017.

Links

State of the County Address and details on the county’s proposed budget

Baltimore County press release on proposed budget

Baltimore Business Journal coverage (behind firewall)