Prince George’s County Council smoothly went through the budget process Thursday, approving a nearly $4.1 billion spending plan that marks the county’s largest budget ever with no tax increase.
The fiscal year 2019 budget provides additional money for education and public safety.
“We celebrate the county’s growth for sound and fiscal management,” said Council Chairwoman Dannielle Glaros (D-District 3) of Riverdale Park. “We can be proud of the achievement we made together. This has been one of our smoothest [budget processes].”
It’s an election year and three council members — Andrea Harrison, Mary Lehman and Obie Patterson — will serve their final months on the board because of term limits.
“Prince George’s County is extremely well-respected across the country. I want you go out and tell that story,” said Harrison (D-District 5) of Springdale, who seeks one of three seats for state delegate in District 24. “Even though I will not sit in this seat, I will continue to lobby for Prince George’s County.”
As for the budget, it provides more than $2 billion for education, a nearly 4 percent increase from the current budget. The education earmarks include funds for expanding pre-kindergarten programs, construction projects at Suitland High School and the replacement of William Wirt Middle School.
There’s also money for a program to hire academic counselors for high school students who need remedial help after graduation to prepare for college.
Other parts of the budget include public safety at $754 million, an almost 7 percent increase from this fiscal year, to add 125 more police officers, a new fire station in Oxon Hill and two new positions in the sheriff department to support the domestic violence unit.
After voters approved in 2016 to expand the County Council from nine members to 11 with the addition of two at-large seats, it could cost more than $2 million to pay for council members’ salaries, staff, furniture and supplies.
Council members Karen Toles (D-District 7) of Suitland and Mel Franklin (D-District 9) of Upper Marlboro are pursuing those two seats due to term limits on their current district seats.
“I don’t necessarily plan on it to be my last occasion dealing with the council budget,” Franklin said at the county administration building in Upper Marlboro. “We ‘re all team Prince George’s County. We all believe this is an extraordinary place.”
In terms of revenue, MGM National Harbor casino resort anticipates generating nearly $34 million in taxes and game revenues from the casino, 300-room hotel, restaurants and other businesses.
The budget estimates more than $2 billion in general fund revenues with the highest coming from property taxes at $914 million, a nearly 8 percent increase from this current year.
While Glaros read a 10-page statement to thank her council colleagues, county employees and residents, she also praised County Executive and gubernatorial hopeful Rushern L. Baker III, who presented his final budget in March to the council.
“With immense pride, we congratulate [Baker] — a visionary leader and a strong partner,” she said. “My colleagues and I on this council appreciate the manner with which you have worked together with us to move Prince George’s County forward.”
Baker issued a statement Thursday after council adopted the budget.
“The investments in the approved FY2019 budget will continue the dramatic transformation of Prince George’s County in the upcoming fiscal year,” he said. “I appreciate their commitment and dedication to their budget review process over the past two months.”
The budget goes into effect July 1.