May 30, 2017
Last Thursday I joined with my colleagues to unanimously pass the $3.8 billion Fiscal Year 2018 Prince George's County General Fund budget.
This budget is an increase of 4.3% over the approved Fiscal Year 2017 General Fund budget due to growth in real property and income taxes and a full year of revenues from MGM National Harbor.
In this budget we are making strong investments in key areas of
quality of life issues.
The Fiscal Year 2018 budget includes funding for five new police recruitment classes, or 200 new officers, as well as new classes for sworn fire officers, sworn correctional offers, and new sheriff deputies. In addition we added funding to purchase a second set of equipment for our volunteer fire fighters (a critical safety measure) and secured funding for a joint career and volunteer fire fighter recruitment initiative.
We funded crucial Department of Social Services initiatives such as the Adult Resource Bureau to support our most vulnerable residents and the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing initiative.
Because Prince George's County's minimum wage is rising faster than the State's, our Developmental Disabilities Direct Support Care providers across the County are facing critical staffing and pay issues. The County Council believes the more than 2,800 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the County need and deserve quality care and support. Consequently, we are providing $3.5 million in funding this year to help close the gap created by the different minimum wages and improve the providers' ability to retain workers. This is a temporary measure to bridge the gap. The long term solution is the responsibility of the state.
My colleagues and I allocated $25,000 to the small but effective SNAP to Health program, which assists farmers markets with accepting
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/EBT benefits at farmers markets. This helps local residents extend their food budgets while supporting local farmers.
In addition, the Council allocated funds for an innovative public-private partnership to provide matching grants for support services and legal services for our most vulnerable immigrants and refugees.
Overall, $1.97 billion or 65% of all General Funds are appropriated for education in Prince George's County -- Prince George's County Public Schools, Prince George's Community College, and the Prince George's County Memorial Library System. We are fulfilling the promise of CB-33-2015 by dedicating at least 50% of anticipated MGM Resort tax revenues to these crucial educational systems for the second year in a row.
We increased the Prince George's County Memorial Library System's budget to purchase new materials by $300,000 more than the proposed budget. We supported the inclusion of a new Birth from Books program, which will deliver one book per month to children under the age of five, with a goal of reaching 7,200 children. The Capital Improvement Funding necessary to continue to renovations of the New Carrollton branch (anticipated opening June 2018; view construction photos
) and replacement of the Hyattsville branch (anticipated opening fall 2019) is in place. In addition, there is funding to plan and design a new Bladensburg branch library.
For Prince George's County Public Schools, the County is contributing $30 million over Maintenance of Effort -- the most in more than five years -- and authorizing $12 million from the PGCPS fund balance to address other needs. The budget focuses on the strategic areas of academic excellence, a high-performing workforce, safe and supportive environments, family and community engagement, and organizational effectiveness.
The County Council funds the Board of Education operating budget by allocating funds to a number of specific State statutory categories. Between now and the end of June, the PGCPS Board of Education will make the final decisions on necessary budget adjustments through the reconciliation process. Funding the full Board of Education budget request would have required a significant tax increase.
In the PGCPS Capital Improvement Process budget, I am proud that the Council added an additional $5 million to the "major repairs" category, as the large majority of school buildings in District 3, and across the County, are rapidly aging. Funding remains in place and on schedule for the full replacement of William Wirt Middle School. This will be the first "new or fully rebuilt" school in more than 40 years in District 3. Please join me at William Wirt MS on Wednesday, June 7, at 6:30 pm, for details on the process and timeline for construction of the new school.
The County continues to invest in Prince George's Community College, which serves more than 40,000 students and whose economic impact on the County represents 1.5% of the County's economy. The approved budget supports a $1.7 million Promise Scholarship Program. I was proud to serve on the PGC Promise Scholarship Task Force and look forward to the implementation of this program, which will cover tuition and fees not covered by State and federal aid for PGCPS graduates attending PGCC.
The PGCC Capital Improvement Program budget contains funds necessary to complete the renovation and expansion of the Queen Anne Academic Center and the renovation of Lanham Hall. The construction of the Culinary Arts Center will be completed by next summer.
|PGCC Culinary Arts Center
Quality of Life
Our local infrastructure -- especially curbs, sidewalks, and roads -- has an immense impact on our quality of life. State funding for these items has decreased dramatically in recent years, from $24.8 million in FY 2009 to $2.9 million in FY 2018. The County, therefore, is continuing the increased investment we began last year by allocating $27 million for FY 2018. Yet this is still a drop in the bucket to replace and repair all the areas of need. The budget also includes
funding to begin implementation of bike share in Prince George's County. (View the Feasibility Study
We are also investing $1.5 million into the Housing Rehabilitation Assistance Program (HRAP), which provides 0% rehabilitation loans to low-to-moderate income County homeowners to finance badly needed home improvements. In addition, for the first time, $5 million has been added to the Housing Trust Fund to address affordable housing needs in the County. Funding for important storm water projects in Riverdale Park, College Park, Berwyn Heights, and Seabrook were also included in this year's budget.
My commitment to education in the County extends far beyond the budget. My staff is currently in the planning stages for our 3rd Annual Parkdale High School College and Career Fair. Watch this email newsletter for more information soon. In the meantime, if you know a rising high school sophomore or junior, please encourage them to register for the FREE University of Maryland College Access Conference on Saturday, June 24.
This free event is designed to offer guidance for high school sophomores and juniors as they prepare to navigate the college admissions process. Sessions will provide valuable information on topics such as completing the application process, writing a college essay, getting involved on campus, applying for merit scholarships and financial aid, and choosing a career. The day will also include an information fair with representatives from our academic schools and colleges.
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. As always, don't hesitate to reach out to me or a member of my staff if we can assist you in any way.
Together Strengthening our Community,
P.S. If you live in District 3, I hope you received my annual print newsletter in the mail in April. If you didn't receive one or would like to read it again, you can read it online.