The Prince George’s County Council unanimously approved a $5 billion fiscal year 2023 budget Tuesday that increases spending on 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, increase resources in 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 including $54 million for schools in high concentration areas of poverty. In addition to the Blueprint program, state aid for the county has been estimated to be $1.3 billion.
“What we have done is historic,” said Council member Deni Taveras (D-District 2) of Adelphi, who approved her last budget June 1 due to term limits. “We have fully funded our schools in the highest amount that it has ever been. This is a transformational budget.”
The police department budget will increase to nearly $367 million, a 7% increase from the current spending plan.
Some of the increased expenditures include 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 year 2020 to 8,200 this current year.
For the county’s Department of Family Services, the agency will receive funding to implement at least three programs next year:
- $125,000 for an online system called Start Early Beta Program to allow organizations involved in early childhood systems to collaborate and share knowledge supporting children and families.
- $110,000 to improve workforce development and employment for youth and young adults ages 16 to 24 not in school or unemployed. The money will come from the Governor’s Office for Children.
- $100,000 to develop a five-year plan to strengthen the county’s early childhood system that includes education, mental health, transportation and other resources.
In terms of revenues, the county anticipates about $48 million from MGM casino and 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. During the next fiscal year that could increase 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 both expiring in December.
While thanking colleagues and various county staff, Glaros (D-District 3) of Riverdale Park became emotional.
“I get sentimental,” she said wiping away tears.
Turner (D-District 4) of Bowie admitted there have been disputes among 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 entered 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 as lieutenant governor candidate 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 secure a four-year term.
“I learned that [Council chair Calvin Hawkins II] is a skillful negotiator and really went out of his way to make sure that all of us got something and that’s why there was a united vote – that’s the kind of leadership that unifies the council,” Burroughs said during a press briefing. “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.