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Prince George's County Adopts New Budget

Gale Horton Gay | , WI Staff Writer | 5/29/2012, 10:01 p.m.

Prince George's County officials passed a $3.2 billion operating budget for 2013 that funds additional police, fire and EMS personnel and several millions for health care, education and economic development.

The budget was adopted last week by the Prince George's County Council.

"This budget is a testament of the good working relationship between the county council and my administration and the commitment we share to move this county forward despite limited revenue," said Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.

"We made some tough decisions, but together we made investments in our schools and children, public safety, economic development and health care that will continue to make Prince George's County a great place to live, invest, work and visit."

The council also passed a $2.2 billion six-year capital improvement program.

The budget also includes a 25 cent increase in the recordation tax rate for new home purchases, however it's less than what Baker had proposed - a 50 cent increase. That means less revenue brought in from that tax.

"Although the county council did not approve the 50 cent increase in the recordation tax rate in FY 2013 that would have provided us greater financial flexibility for the tough times ahead in the next few years, I applaud Chair Harrison, Vice Chair Olson, and the county council for their spirit of collaboration during this budget process," Baker said.

The Prince George's chief executive's office said that despite absorbing an additional $20 million in costs from the state due to the teacher pension shift in the next fiscal year without full revenue offsets from the state, the budget will "continue the county's forward progress and improve the lives of its residents and stakeholders."

The budget includes $1.66 billion in operating funds for education, $11 million for the Economic Development Incentive Fund, $15 million for Dimensions Healthcare System, funding for a new 311 Call Center as well as 20 additional correctional officers.

Also included in the budget is $5 million of the Department of Public Works and Transportation budget allocated for pedestrian safety projects, increased funding for Summer Youth Programs and $1 million to support the capital program for the Prince George's African-American Museum and Cultural Center at North Brentwood.

The council and county executive also agreed to provide one-time salary bonuses to county employees in 2013.

Prince George's County Council Chair Andrea C. Harrison praised her council colleagues and stakeholders who worked to ensure the budget supports the county's "core priorities," and reflects the needs of residents.

"As one Prince George's County, we made sacrifices, adjusted expectations, and focused sound financial management decisions on the services citizens expect and deserve, and we achieved a FY 2013 county budget that emphasizes our shared priorities for job creation and a thriving economy, quality education, access to quality, affordable health care, and safer communities," Harrison said.

She said the $1.6 billion education budget provides "key support for technology improvements and classroom upgrades" and includes an additional $19.6 million in funding for the teacher pensions costs shifted from the state to the county.

Additionally, the budget includes $325,000 for the Health Department for public health-related positions that will serve the focus areas of the recently launched Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative.

The community had an opportunity to share its input on the budget through a town hall meeting in March at Prince George's Community College.

The budget becomes effective with the new Fiscal Year which begins July 1.