Prince George’s County residents may not have to worry about a second straight year of tax increases, but County Executive Rushern L. Baker III warned Tuesday during a budget hearing at Oxon Hill High School there’s a limited amount of money to spend.
“If you ask us for money, [then] you can also tell me which programs you would like for me to cut and where would you like for me to get the money,” he said.
According to a preliminary budget document, the fiscal 2018 expenditures would increase by more than $100 million above the current budget due to several factors: additional staffing in the state’s attorney, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services offices; money toward the Purple Line light-rail and hospital projects; and public safety classes.
A new budget item county officials said wouldn’t have a major impact on the budget comes from a Baker proposal on new state legislation to appoint members to the county’s liquor control board.
Currently, the governor appoints members to the five-member board and an administrator/director to oversee the office managed by state rules and regulations.
Baker’s legislation would have the county executive appoint each member and board chair and a director with final approval by the county council.
In addition, up to 24 part-time inspectors would become county employees, according to Baker’s legislation labeled “accountability and reform act-management and governance.” The state senators that represent Prince George’s chose the inspectors.
In neighboring Montgomery County, the county executive appoints commissioners to the five-member board who are later confirmed by the county council.
Thomas Himler, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for budget, finance and economic development, said most of the annual salaries are covered by the county.
For instance, part-time inspectors are each paid $13,900; chief inspector estimated at $90,000; and a deputy about $40,000.
The only salary that would needed to be covered rests with a director that hasn’t been appointed in the county in several years, Himler said.
The local oversight comes after federal authorities last month charged former Prince George’s state Delegate William A. Campos, two county liquor control board officials and two county businessmen in bribery scandals. If convicted, all five men face up to 15 years in prison.
“The main thing right now is it is called the Prince George’s Liquor Commission, but yet it is appointed by the governor and regulated by the state and not regulated by the county,” Baker said. “It’s just about putting greater accountability.”
The two remaining public sessions on the budget will be held 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Prince George’s Community College in Largo and 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at Laurel High School.