Public Safety and Education Investments Lead Harford County Budget Proposal

County Executive Barry Glassman has released a recommended county budget for fiscal year 2018 which includes no increase in tax rates yet provides record level funding for public safety, education and libraries, according to the County.

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Harford County Executive’s proposed budget surpasses funding levels in public safety and education without raising taxes.

As quoted in the Press Release, Harford County Executive Glassman said,

“Three years ago we began on a new path forward to restore fiscal responsibility and balance to local government. It has not always been easy, but I am proud that we have followed this path to reinvest in people. In fact, since taking office, my administration has eliminated 122 positions within county government and implemented efficiencies in every county department. This has allowed us to direct more than $24 million over the past three years toward restoring salaries for teachers, law enforcement and other employees who serve our citizens and improve lives in Harford County.”

The recommended operating budget directs 83% of new revenue to public safety and education and funds Harford County Public Schools at more than $5 million above the required Maintenance of Effort, according to the press release.

Budget highlights include:

RESTORING BALANCE & EFFICIENCY

  • No tax increases
  • Realistic six-year Capital Improvement Program; maintaining Harford County’s Triple-A bond rating
  • Rightsizing the county workforce, eliminating 122 positions since December 2014, and operating within our means
  • County government efficiencies have allowed us to dedicate 83% of new FY 18 revenue to education and public safety

REINVESTING IN OUR WORKFORCE

  • Merit-based salary increases of 4% per qualifying county employee
  • Increased funding equivalent to 4% for employees in the Harford County Public Library, State’s Attorney’s Office, EMS Foundation, Sheriff’s Office civilian personnel and Circuit Court system
  • $2.2 million to fully fund the first year phase-in of Sheriff’s Office Pay Study for Law Enforcement and Corrections Personnel

INVESTING IN EDUCATION

  • Record level funding continues for Harford County Public Schools:
  • Operating funding for Harford County Public Schools at $238,715,645 or $5,447,307 above the Maintenance of Effort requirement
  • Support for teachers, with $5 million in increased funding dedicated for instructional salaries
  • Fully funded Harford Community College request at $850,000

STRENGTHENING COMMUNITIES

  • Increased county funding for prevention of heroin addiction and related support services
  • $4.6 million for Agricultural Land Preservation
  • Record level funding for Harford County Public Library
  • New EMS division under the Department of Emergency Services consisting of 16 paramedic positions and a medical director at no increased cost to the County
  • New VFC Ladies Auxiliary Service Program
  • Contributions to historically preserve the Hosanna School Museum and McComas Institute

CAPITAL PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

  • $15 million investment in county road and bridge projects
  • Storm water remediation projects funded at $6.25 million
  • Full funding to replace North Harford High School’s artificial turf field
  • $650,000 towards priority repairs for Volunteer Fire Company facilities and life safety equipment
  • Reinvesting in water & sewer infrastructure: $10.9 million
  • Funding to connect the Ma and Pa Heritage Trail
  • Construction to begin in 2018 for the $99.2 million Havre de Grace Middle/High School replacement project
  • Funding to complete the $7.6 million Bel Air Elementary School HVAC System and Open Classroom Conversion project
  • $1 million in funding for school technology in HCPS
  • North Harford High School Aquaculture Lab and Greenhouse project funded at $830,000
  • Fully funded FY 18 and FY 19 request from HCPS for Swimming Pool Renovations

For more information, the entire budget is published on the county website at http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/1531/Budget-and-Management-Research.

 

Frederick Proposed Budget Prioritizes Community Values, from Students to Seniors

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner released her proposed fiscal 2018 budget, prioritizing community values: education, public safety and senior citizens. From the announcement:

With the input of thousands of county citizens, I have shaped a fiscally responsible budget that reflects our community values and priorities. The budget provides record funding to ensure top-notch education for our children, an investment in police, fire, corrections and 9-1-1 communications to keep our community safe, and services that create an enviable quality of life in which to live and grow our businesses.

The budget provides record funding for education at $272.3 million, including $3.8 million for maintenance of effort (MOE), along with an additional $10 million on top of that. The capital budget funds construction of Butterfly Ridge and Sugarloaf elementary schools, design for Rock Creek School and a feasibility study for Waverley Elementary school. Frederick Community College receives $700,000 for a 2 percent salary improvement for all employees. The Frederick County Public Libraries receive funds for increased staff to support the larger Walkersville Branch Library, scheduled to open in January 2018.

The budget reflects commitment to staffing public safety through the county’s Sheriff’s Office, Division of Fire and Rescue Services, 9-1-1 Communications and Emergency Management. The Sheriff’s Office receives funds for eight new Correctional Officer positions and four new sworn deputy positions, the latter to pick up responsibilities combating the growing opioid crisis. Fire and Rescue Service receives funds to add 12 new positions, and 9-1-1 Communications receives eight new positions.

Reflecting a high priority identified in the county’s citizen budget survey, the budget prioritizes services for senior citizens – a population expected to grow twice as fast in Frederick than the rest of the state. Funds are targeted for advancing the county’s Seniors First program, including support for Meals on Wheels, additional in-home health aides, and help to connect seniors to needed resources and services, such as navigating Medicare and Medicaid complexities.

The budget also provides an additional $345,000 from additional state transportation aid for basic materials to support the county’s infrastructure, which includes 1,300 miles of county roads and over 400 bridges and pipe structures. The capital budget funds preventive maintenance and pavement reconstruction of asphalt and tar and chip roads through the county’s Pavement Management Program, as well replacement of the bridge on Gas House Pike and several federally funded bridge deck replacements.

The General Fund budget grows by 3.9 percent, maintains the county’s AAA bond rating, and includes no tax rate increases. All employees receive a 2 percent cost of living adjustment, and 350 positions receive reclassifications.

Links

Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Message

FY2018 Proposed Budget

 

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)

Allegany County School System Gets $793K Funding Boost

Allegany County Public Schools officials received good news recently when the Maryland legislature revised its educational funding formula, resulting in an increase of $793,472 for the local school system for the 2017-2018 school year.

According to The Cumberland Times-News,

The funding was discussed Tuesday at the regular meeting of the Allegany County Board of Education at the central office on Washington Street.

The school board had developed a $111.8 million budget for fiscal 2018. The state had been expected to contribute roughly $78.7 million for fiscal 2018 and the county approximately $30.2 million. The increase from the state will bring its total funding to $79.6 million.

The increase in state dollars is a result of considerations given by analysts studying the funding formula of Maryland’s school districts.

The state created the Kirwan Commission in the summer of 2016 to study the funding mechanisms for school districts. The commission is continuing its work and is expected to issue a final report later this year or in early 2018.

“(The increase) recognizes a flaw in the funding formula … that is being talked about … and hopefully will be ameliorated with the work of the Kirwan Commission,” said Cox.

Allegany County has a net loss of 102 students for fiscal 2018. With funding based largely on enrollment numbers, school systems that saw a decline in enrollment one year suffered with fewer funding dollars.

 …

Larry McKenzie, chief financial officer for the school system, said the state decided to look at enrollment over a three-year period instead of one year.

“They went back and looked at three years and took an average of that,” said McKenzie.

“To be honest, it was a surprise to me. The way the formula is, it worked out there were instances that, although we had overall declining enrollment, some of the areas within the formula we received increases … for instance, our special education population increased. So, within the formula itself, there were some changes.”

MACo successfully supported passage HB 684 / SB 1024 – Education – State Grants for Education Aid, legislation that will provide $28.2 million in additional funding for K-12 public schools in Allegany ($793,472), Calvert ($240,000), Carroll ($1.6 million), Cecil ($190,000), Garrett ($456,000), Harford ($356,000), Kent ($215,000), Queen Anne’s ($22,000), Somerset ($455,000), and Talbot ($133,000) Counties, and Baltimore City ($23.7 million).

Useful Links

Article from The Cumberland Times-News

MACo testimony on HB 684

Prince George’s Budget Proposal Directs New Revenues Strategically

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The Prince George’s County General Fund for FY 18 is $114 million or 3.6% above the FY 17 budget level.

The Fiscal Year 2018 Proposed Budget for Prince George’s County benefits from the increase in property tax collections, income taxes and a full year of MGM National Harbor-related revenues.

As described in the Proposed Prince George’s County Budget-in-Brief, the County Executive would direct new revenues towards strategic goals in education, economic development, public safety, housing, and family services.

The Proposed FY 2018 Budget for all funds is $3.84 billion, an increase of $130.7 million or 3.5% over the FY 2017 Budget. Highlights of the FY 2018 Proposed Budget include:

  • The proposed budget includes $1.96 billion in funding for the Board of Education. This reflects an increase of $39.1 million or 2.0% over the FY 2017. The proposed budget supports the System’s strategic focus areas in addition to targeting funding for wrap around services to increase graduation rates and decrease dropout rates at four challenged high schools – Bladensburg, Central, High Point and Northwestern.
  • Continuing to grow our economy by expanding our commercial tax base and creating and retaining jobs remains a focus in FY 2018. Supporting the ongoing effort are the budgets of the Economic Development Incentive (EDI) Fund and the County’s economic development agencies. The Economic Development Corporation and FSC First will use $9 million from the EDI fund, along with other available financial incentives, to retain and attract businesses to Prince George’s County. These efforts will be supported by the additional funding provided to the Conference and Visitors Bureau to enhance our branding and marketing efforts.
  • Protecting our residential market’s recovery and expanding the stock of workforce housing opportunities will be a priority in FY 2018. The FY 2018 budget includes new investments including $5.1 million to support the County’s Housing Investment Trust Fund. The fund will support workforce housing and down payment and closing cost programs in the County.
  • Maintaining efforts to keep our growing communities safe by funding five new Police recruitment classes, or 200 new officers, which will offset attrition and grow the size of the force, and providing additional funds for overtime to support crime prevention initiatives. Furthermore, the budget includes 115 new sworn fire officers (three classes), 70 new sworn correctional officers (two classes) and 25 new sheriff deputies.
  • Supporting families and children by funding new health and human services initiatives, including the Child Protection Education Unit, Health Alliance Program, Disabilities Apprenticeship Training Program and the Options Counseling program. Funding will continue to support crisis intervention, employment training, afterschool programming and family economic stability services. Additionally, resources are provided to coordinate efforts to reduce the occurrence of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

For more information, see the Prince George’s County Proposed Budget-in-Brief.

Calvert County’s 2018 Budget Benefits from Increased Revenues

Calvert County’s Staff Recommended Budget has been introduced for review by Calvert County’s Board of Commissioners.

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Calvert County’s Recommended Budget includes funding for employee salaries, schools, highways, and land preservation.

The County’s Fiscal Year 2018 General Fund budget, as described in the recommendation, totals $282 million, an increase of $35 million from last year. As described,

The increased revenues of the General Fund are primarily due to the County’s Payment in lieu of Tax agreement (PILOT) with Dominion Cove Point. This budget also benefits from the FY 2017 income tax and property tax increases.

The Fiscal Year 2018 budget recommendation includes a salary increase for county and school board employees, and funding above the required “maintenance of effort” amount for Calvert County schools.

As described in the Staff Recommended Budget document, this budget includes:

  • A step increase (i.e., salary increase) for County employees, with a $1.03 million estimated impact plus a 1% cost of living adjustment (COLA) with a $460,000 cost.
  • Funding of the Board of Education stands at $5.6 million over the state required maintenance of effort amount; $3.1 million as agreed upon with the BOE to cover the step increase for school employees given in FY 2017 and $2.5 million in additional funding for operations.
  • A $2 million increase to Calvert County’s Highway Maintenance Division to fund the road paving program bringing the total amount provided for paving to a 9 year high of $4 million.
  • A $740,000 increase to land preservation efforts for a total of $1 million for land preservation programs

For more information, see the complete Staff Recommended Budget for Calvert County.

Montgomery County Executive’s 2018 Budget Boosts School Funding

County Executive Ike Leggett released his Recommended FY18 Operating Budget of $5.4 billion last month.

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Montgomery County, Maryland’s total operating budget, as introduced by the County Executive, is $5.4 billion.

According to Montgomery County’s Press Release, the budget increases County spending on the Montgomery County Public Schools by $54 million and holds property taxes at the Charter Limit by reducing the tax rate by 2.5 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

On the proposed schools budget, the County Executive is quoted as saying:

“Until last year, MCPS had been funded at, or below, the level defined as Maintenance of Effort (MOE) since FY09. That meant that on a per pupil basis, funding had not increased. In recognition of the longstanding need within MCPS to address its growing and increasingly diverse population, I recommended, and the Council approved, an increase of $87 million above MOE.  This additional funding has allowed the Board to begin to address the many needs of its approximately 159,000 students.

“To build on this momentum, I am recommending an additional $25 million in resources above the MOE level of funding, for a total increase of 2.3 percent.  Of this $25 million, $19 million represents an increase in the local contribution, and $6 million represents the use of additional fund balances or end of year transfer.”

For more information about other facets of the County Executive’s budget, see the complete press release from Montgomery County.

Grants Conference Opens Early Bird Registration

Early-bird registration is open for the annual Maryland Governor’s Grants Training Conference.

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Details:

Location: Marriott Conference Center at College Park

Date: Monday, November 13, 2017

From the Governor’s Grants Office:

We had another incredible turnout and exceptionally high survey rating last year. This year we want to exceed your expectations by offering you more opportunities to hear from expert speakers talking about relevant subjects that positively impact your organization and the communities you serve.

For more information, contact the Governor’s Grants Office.

County-By-County Shares Of Additional Transportation Aid Released

The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) has released the county-by-county breakdown of the $12.8 million in transportation “capital grants” approved in the fiscal 2018 State budget for 23 counties. The General Assembly reduced the Governor’s original proposal of $27.4 million to $12.8 million, which includes $4 million of capital grants which counties have received since fiscal 2016, and $8.8 million in new grants.

The breakdown is available here.

The State distributes the funds according to the traditional highway user revenue formula, half based upon vehicle registrations and half based upon road mileage.

 

FY18 Transportation Grants

The grants are in addition to “traditional” highway user revenues: the statutory formula created by the State in 1968 through which some motorist revenues are distributed to the State, counties, and municipalities. These funds – some motor vehicle fuel taxes, titling taxes, registration fees and some others – are deposited into the Gasoline and Motor Vehicle Revenue Account, an account within the Transportation Trust Fund, and then 1.5 percent is distributed to 23 counties, 0.4 percent is distributed to municipalities, and 7.7 percent is distributed to Baltimore City.

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Source: DLS.

For more than forty years, local governments have received at least 30 percent of these revenues to fund local roads and bridges – 83 percent of the public road mileage in Maryland. In 2010, the State reduced highway user revenues by 90 percent for most jurisdictions – and local governments have advocated for restored highway user revenues ever since.

The General Assembly’s action this year to provide counties some relief connotes a small step, but marked improvement over prior years.

Useful Links

County-by-county Breakdown

Operating Budget Finalized: $8.8m in New Highway User, SDAT Cost Shift Dead

Highway User Revenues – What’s On The Table?

Counties Call For A Local Infrastructure Fast Track

 

Senate Committee Approves Homestead Credit Deadline Extension

Counties will more than likely have an additional four months to determine their homestead property tax credit percentages, starting with taxable years beginning after June 30, 2018.

The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee has approved House Bill 351, Property Tax – Homestead Property Tax Credit Percentage and Constant Yield Tax Rate – Deadlines. The bill extends the deadline by which county governments (from November 15 to March 15) and municipalities (from November 25 to March 25) must set or alter the homestead property tax credit percentage in a taxable year and then notify the State Department of Assessments and Taxation of any changes.

The bill still requires approval by the full Senate before Sine Die, but opposition is not anticipated.

MACo supported this bill. Check here for prior coverage.