Prince George’s Council Approves $5 Billion Budget

The Prince George’s County Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a $5 billion fiscal year 2023 budget proposal that increases spending for education and the police department.

The county’s public schools account for more than half of the spending plan at $2.6 billion toward various programs that include a public-private partnership (P3) program to build several new schools and increase resources for English-language learners and COVID-19 relief grants for summer school and technology services.

The school system will also receive millions of dollars from the state’s Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education such as $54 million for schools in high concentration areas of poverty. In addition to the Blueprint program, the state aid for the county estimates to be $1.3 billion.

“What we have done is historic,” said Council member Deni Taveras (D-District 2) of Adelphi, who worked on her last budget proposal due to term limits. “Fully funding our schools in the highest amount that it has ever been. This is a transformational budget.”

The police department budget will jump to nearly $367 million, a 7% increase from the current spending plan.

Some of the increased expenditures are general administrative contracts at $2.9 million mostly due to legal fees, vehicle maintenance at $504,500, and five new positions for a deputy director for forensics, two chemists to assist in DNA analysis and two crime scene investigators at $390,600.

The county has about 56 traffic cameras, which helped decrease red-light traffic violations from 8,576 in fiscal 2020 to 8,200 this current fiscal year.

In terms of revenues, the county anticipates about $48 million from the MGM casino resort at National Harbor.

With thousands of people receiving COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, the hotel tax allocated at $525,000 before the current year is estimated at $850,000. The next fiscal year that could boost to $900,000.

Other revenues include property taxes at $1 billion, income taxes at $802 million and $450 million in other local taxes.

Besides Taveras, Council members Todd Turner and Dannielle Glaros also worked on the budget for a final time with their terms expiring in December.

While thanking colleagues and various county staff, Glaros (D-District 3) of Riverdale Park got emotional.

“I get sentimental,” she said wiping away tears.

Turner (D-District 4) of Bowie admitted there’s been disputes amongst the council, but “at the end of the day, we are here to serve the residents of Prince George’s County. Hopefully, I’ve been able to do that in my capacity.”

Council member Edward Burroughs III (D-District 8) of Camp Springs jumped into the budget process after he won a special election in February. Burroughs served on the school board for more than 10 years.

Former Council member Monique Anderson-Walker resigned in November to run for lieutenant governor alongside Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Because Anderson-Walker’s term doesn’t expire until December 2022, Burroughs must run again in the July 19 primary election to win a four-year term.

“I learned that [Hawkins] is a skillful negotiator and really went out of his way to make sure that all of us got something,” he said during a press briefing. “I think that’s why there was a united vote. That’s the kind of leadership that unifies the council. This is a much more inclusive process than what I’m used to from across the street. Happy to be here and hope to be back for next year’s budget.”

The budget goes into effect July 1.

This article was written by the Washington Informer, to read more articles like this click here.

Photo: Prince George’s County Council Chair Calvin Hawkins II (fourth from left) leads a press briefing at the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, after the council approved Prince George’s $5 billion fiscal 2023 budget on June 1. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

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