The Anne Arundel County Council on Friday adopted a Fiscal Year 2020 budget that closely mirrors the budget proposed by County Executive Steuart Pittman on May 1. The $1.7 billion operating budget includes increased funding to address critical needs in education, public safety, infrastructure, and environmental enforcement.
The FY 20 income tax rate is 2.81% (up from 2.5%) and the FY 20 property tax rate is 93.5 cents per $100 assessed value (up from 90.2 cents per $100 assessed value).
Due to the County’s self-imposed property tax cap, which limits the total annual increase in property tax revenues to the lesser of 4.5% or the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the revenues generated from any increase beyond the cap ($26.6 million) must be spent on education. The proposed income tax adjustment is expected to generate an additional $28.6 million in FY 2020, plus additional revenue in FY 2021 and FY 2022.
“This budget is a much-needed correction to years of kicking the can down the road,” said County Executive Pittman. “We have done what our County Charter directs us to do – determine the needs of our county and set tax rates that balance the budget – and we have done it in a fiscally responsible way. I am proud to have worked with our budget office and the County Council to make investments that will help our county now and in the future.”
“I’m proud of the Council’s work on this budget,” said Council Chairman Andrew Pruski (District 4). “The commitment to public safety helps us avoid a crisis, improve response time, and enhance our staffing levels.”
According to a press release:
The County Council passed 48 amendments to the budget on June 10, many of which were based on the County Auditor’s recommendations and passed unanimously. Council amendments resulted in a $1,291,400 reduction to the general fund. The Council added eight behavioral health positions to the Board of Education budget, and with support of County Executive Pittman, also added 15 new firefighter positions, a new planner position in Office of Planing and Zoning, and a new deputy sheriff for courtroom security.
The budget also includes a $250 million boost to capital funding through the Reserve Fund for Permanent Public Improvements (PPI), specifically for school construction, public safety facilities and road capacity and transportation projects.
“At long last, the Old Mill High School community and surrounding schools can see the light at the end tunnel and we are excited,” said Councilwoman Allison Pickard (District 2). “This budget moves up the construction schedule of the Old Mill related projects by up to five years compared with the most recent budget. Finally, it is our community’s turn to see investment in our community.”
The FY20 budget provides a boost to public safety agencies by filling critical staffing needs. Fifty new firefighter positions will be added, with the Council adding 15 new positions to the 35 proposed in the County Executive’s budget. The budget also fills 29 police vacancies and adds 10 new sworn officers. Thirteen new detention officers will be added to staff the new Central Booking facilities.
“I’m pleased that we are able to increase funding for road maintenance, sidewalks and crosswalks in my district and across the county,” said Councilwoman Sarah Lacey (District 1). “These investments in infrastructure, along with increased funding for our public safety agencies, will have a meaningful impact on county residents’ lives.”
Total funding for the Board of Education increased $87.2 million compared with last year, which includes funding from the state Blueprint for Education (Kirwan Commission) legislation. The FY20 budget supports compensation packages for educators and critical new positions, including more than 140 new classroom teachers, 50 special education positions, and 35 mental health positions. The county contribution to the Board’s budget increased by more than $46 million compared with last year.
“This budget makes great strides toward appropriate staffing levels in our police and fire departments,” said Councilwoman Lisa Rodvien (District 6). “Closest to my heart, however, is our investment in our public schools. We are finally making long overdue increases in teacher staffing as well as school mental health providers. The resulting smaller classes and increased supports will help put our young people on a trajectory towards a brighter future.”
Other investments include:
· Four new environmental inspectors to protect our environment
· Six new planners to support better environmental planning and the General Development Plan.
· Creating a county-stat program to increase efficiency and accountability
· Additional support for community development housing programs and rental assistance
· One new park ranger and $1 million in additional funding for much-needed maintenance and renovations at county parks
· Making the library branch at the Annapolis Mall permanent and adding to the libraries’ materials budget.
Full details of the budget can be found on the county budget website.