Prince George’s County Council unanimously approved a $4.5 billion fiscal 2022 budget proposal Thursday, with education as the top spending priority.

More than half of the budget — $2.3 billion — has been earmarked for funding public education, up more than $64 million from the current spending plan. Expenditures include recommendations from the state Blueprint for Maryland’s Future robust education plan with a focus on mental health services, expansion of early childhood and college and career readiness.

About 65 clinicians are scheduled to work in the community schools, designated to provide before- and after-school programs, mentorship and vision and dental services.

Increases in federal, state and county funding will assist in a myriad of programs such as re-enrolling students who may have dropped out of school this mix of virtual and in-person learning, coordinate an attendance task force and English tutoring.

Enrollment for the 2021-22 school years projects to increase by 8,624 students to nearly 142,000.

“We will be providing substantial things that are needed to effectively run our school system,” council Vice Chair Deni Taveras (D-District 2) of Adelphi said after passing the budget.

Earlier this month, Verizon announced it will provide iPads to students, teachers and administrators at Samuel P. Chase Academy in Forestville and Nicholas Orem Middle School in Hyattsville. Through the company’s partnership with Digital Promise, the students will receive the 5G technology to use at school and home year-round.

Although there’s no proposed property tax increase, property owners will experience a nearly 6% hike in water and sewer bills.

According to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, a household of three using 55 gallons of water per person daily would see a quarterly increase of $11.83 on the bill.

Because late fees resumed Tues- day, July 1, customers can receive information on financial assistance at www.wsscwater.com/assistance, or call 301-206-4001.

With mental health a major priority in the county, officials allocated $20 million to renovate a 31,200-square-foot building next to Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center in Lanham.

Luminis Health will add another $3 million toward construction of the building and will maintain it once it opens in December.

The center plans to accommodate about 5,000 patients 13 and older annually for ambulatory services, including treatment for substance abuse disorders, psychiatric care and counseling. It will employ 100 new workers such as therapists, nurse practitioners, psychologists and social workers.

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced last year that the county would reallocate $20 million from the police department budget previously proposed for a public safety training building.

The upcoming fiscal year police budget will decrease by $12.6 million from the current spending plan. Part of the reason, according to the budget, deals with high- er vacancy rates, limited recruit classes and overtime totaling $9.5 million.

However, $291,600 will go toward hiring a director of race and equity and two psychologists. These new positions are based on a recommendation from the county’s police reform work group.

“This is the people’s budget,” said council Chair Calvin Hawkins II (D-At Large) of Upper Marlboro. “Listening to the police reform task force committee and we listened to the citizens who came to our public hearings and town halls to speak on their concerns.”

The budget goes into effect July 1.

Click here to view the fiscal year budget and funding by departments.

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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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