Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Prince George’s Revises FY21 Budget, Anticipates $134M Loss of Revenues Amid Pandemic

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has revised her proposal for the fiscal 2021 operating budget as the economic fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic continues, with the county projecting a loss of $134 million in revenues.

Prince George’s overwhelmingly has the state’s most confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, since Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency early last month after Maryland’s first known cases were reported. The subsequent shutdown of businesses statewide and the ripple effect on the economy caused Alsobrooks to scale back the $4.58 billion budget she initially proposed March 11.

“This is a significant deterioration of county source revenues which support our core services,” Alsobrooks wrote in a letter dated Monday to County Council Chair Todd Turner. “We must remain vigilant in monitoring our revenue collections as well as the overall economic trends which could indicate a further erosion of our fiscal outlook.”

Some of the revised figures from last month’s proposed budget are:

• $86.4 million cut in income taxes ($77.4 million in receipts and $8.9 million from a state disparity grant).
• $16.7 million reduction in licenses and permit fees with the majority ($14.7 million) based on gaming revenues.
• $13.2 million in transfer and recordation taxes because of a decline in home purchases and refinancing.

With revenue declines also come reductions in expenditures. Six of the county’s public safety agencies could be one of the hardest-hit with a nearly $36 million decrease due to a reduction in funding for vacant positions, fringe benefit costs and other salary adjustments.

According to a revised plan, board of education funding could be decreased by $7.7 million which includes $2.6 million in instructional salaries and $1 million toward special education.

The proposed $4.5 billion spending plan released last month highlighted nearly 60 percent of the budget toward education, or $2.28 billion.

The coronavirus pandemic may also affect The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the major education plan state lawmakers approved last month to increase teacher salaries, expand early childhood and higher additional mental health providers and guidance counselors.

Prince George’s County Council plans to hold three virtual budget sessions Tuesday starting with education. Although the school board unanimously approved a $2.3 billion budget in February, the council makes the final approval.

The council must adopt a new spending plan by June 1.

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has thrust us all into uncertain times and unknown territory,” Turner said in a statement Thursday. “This will be yet another challenge that Prince Georgians will rise to meet together motivated by the strength, determination and resiliency of our residents and communities.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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