Members of the Prince George's County Council members hold a session at the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro on May 29 to vote on the county's fiscal 2020 budget proposal. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Members of the Prince George's County Council members hold a session at the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro on May 29 to vote on the county's fiscal 2020 budget proposal. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

The Prince George’s County Council approved a $4.3 billion fiscal 2020 budget Wednesday that provides nearly 82 percent of its total for education and public safety.

Eight of the 11 council members voted in favor of the budget. Members Thomas Dernoga, Jolene Ivey and Mel Franklin didn’t attend the meeting.

Council President Todd Turner (D-District 4) of Bowie began the meeting at 1:15 p.m. once the board had a quorum of six people.

Ivey said she received a copy of the budget at 12:45 p.m., 30 minutes before the council session at the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro.

“I was surprised [the council] started voting before we had a chance to read it,” Ivey (D-District 5) said. “So I was reading it. Seems pretty reasonable.”

Prince George’s County County Council Chairman Todd Turner (right) and Vice Chairman Rodney Street hold a press briefing at the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro on May 29 after the council approved the county’s $4.3 billion fiscal 2020 budget proposal. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

During a press briefing after the council passed the budget, Turner said all members received a final version of the budget.

“It was unanimous [among] the people who were there,” he said. “Like every budget, there are things people want to see. Could we do everything for everybody? We couldn’t do that.”

Wednesday marked the first spending plan approved by the 11-member version of the council, which expanded from nine members last year, and its six newest legislators elected in November.

It also was the first budget of County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who will give a State of the County address June 11 at The Hotel at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Alsobrooks’ emphasis on education was evident in the budget, with nearly $2.1 billion —60 percent of the total — earmarked for that purpose.

About $90 million of that amount would come from the state as part of its Education Blueprint for Maryland’s Future program, which was crafted using recommendations made by the Kirwan Commission, named for its chair William E. “Brit” Kirwan, former chancellor of the state university system.

The funds would go toward such uses as college- and career-readiness programs and resources for special needs students.

The budget will also allow some county libraries to expand Friday hours and open on Sundays, though such changes would be at the discretion of each individual location.

Regarding public safety, the county police department will not only be able to hire 100 new recruits in five different classes, but also receive state assistance to install up to three speed cameras along Route 210, or Indian Head Highway, a notoriously dangerous 21-mile stretch from Oxon Hill near the D.C. border into neighboring Charles County.

Other parts of the budget include road construction and renovation projects; $150,000 for Employ Prince George’s, a quasi-governmental agency in Largo; and $100,000 for the Youth Services Bureau.

“This first budget cycle for me was an exciting time,” said Streeter (D-District 7) of Hillcrest Heights. “We had a positive outcome to our budget process. I just look forward to continuing to serve our citizens to make sure they get the services they so deserve.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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