Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks released a proposed budget Tuesday with no property tax increase and the goal to fund essential services to preserve the environment, boost economic development and public safety.
Alsobrooks, who released a summary of a $5 billion fiscal year 2023 budget at the Wayne K. Curry Administration Building in Largo, joined top county officials and community leaders to highlight a sense of normalcy that includes county employees and visitors not required to wear masks inside buildings. However, stressing “discipline” to keep the majority Black jurisdiction financially solvent.
“Looking at our 2023 budget, we are confident that our county can continue to responsibly make progress to benefit our residents,” she said. “We’re taking steps forward on our proud priorities, while using the budget to address new issues that were magnified by the pandemic.”
One new proposal would be $100,000 to hire a food distribution coordinator to ensure resources are distributed equitably. That person would coordinate with various nonprofit organizations, churches and community leaders to assess areas in need of additional food service.
One of the county’s first programs launched amidst the COVID-19 called “Stand Up and Deliver” distributed up to four million meals and other nonperishable items. The Capital Area Food Bank labeled the county with the highest percentage of food insecurity, or lack of resources to provide affordable and healthy food options in the D.C. region at 17%.
The county’s biggest expenditure would be the public schools designated at $2.6 billion, or more than half of the entire budget. It would represent an increase of $286 million, or 12% over the current spending plan approved last year for the state of Maryland’s second largest school system.
Some spending includes nearly $198 million on school construction such as public-private-partnership (P3) projects to build six new schools mostly in the northern part of the county. Other renovations are proposed at High Point High School in Beltsville and International School at Langley Park located in Bladensburg.
Alsobrooks announced public schools CEO Monica Goldson will travel to New York next week to represent the county as a finalist for a national P3 award for social infrastructure project of the year.
Another county spending priority will focus on public safety in both enforcement and reform, Alsobrooks said.
The summary shows the police department budget at $360 million, an increase of nearly $24 million or 7% over the current budget. Five new positions are proposed to hire two chemists, two crime scene investigators and a deputy director of forensic sciences.
In addition, signing bonuses for new recruits and other officers that include those who reside in Prince George’s. The new recruitment incentives for police officers are budgeted at $640,000.
Approximately $5 million would go to bring in two new classes of recruits.
Alsobrooks said most of the new officers would replace those who either resigned or retired. Full-time officers in the department decreased from 1,700 to about 1,400.
In terms of revenues, the county anticipates receiving slightly more than $1 billion in property taxes, which remains one of the jurisdiction’s biggest revenue generators.
Other outside sources include $1.8 billion from the state for the county public schools, $83 million toward the community college and about $10 million for county libraries.
Elsie Jacobs of Forestville attended the budget release to inquire how much of the budget would help seniors, especially those living on fixed incomes.
The county proposes to allocate $10 million in its Housing Investment Trust Fund to assess affordability challenges. Another $6 million to preserve housing for low-income residents and $205,000 for the Housing Opportunities for All work group.
“I support [Alsobrooks], but there is no affordable housing,” said Jacobs, a longtime advocate of the Suitland area. “There’s a lot of development going on in Suitland, but the rent is not reasonable, especially for senior citizens. Need to have more for our seniors. They paid their dues.”
The proposed budget heads to County Council, which must be approved before the new fiscal year begins July 1.