Dear Prince Georgians:
I am so excited to announce that the Prince George’s County Council officially adopted our FY2020 budget this past week. This was a particularly challenging budget, as we began the process with a $48 million deficit. However, working with the County Council and our great
team in the Office of Management and Budget, we passed a budget that reflects our priorities (especially in the area of education) while also maintaining the sound fiscal policies that have allowed us to keep our Triple-A bond rating on Wall Street.
The Washington Post wrote a great article that summarizes several initiatives of our $4.34 billion FY2020 budget, but I wanted to take some time today to share with you some of the highlights. We were able to fund many of our priorities while also making investments to increase our
commercial tax base, which will help us increase revenue so we can stop balancing our budget on the backs of those we serve. Most importantly, we were able to pass this budget without increasing the property tax rate.
Education has been one of our top priorities, and $2.1 billion of our budget is allocated for the Board of Education. We are pleased that part of this money will include much-needed raises for our school employees. Teacher salary increases are long overdue, and we need to pay our
teachers well to attract and retain the best talent. We also received $53 million in Kirwan funding from the state, which will also go towards teacher salary increases and expanding pre-K offerings in the County.
Related to education, we increased funding for the Summer Youth Enrichment Program to $7 million, which will allow us double the program in size, from 3,000 youth employed to 6,000. We also expanded the age range to include youth 14-22, allowing our younger youth to participate in “capstone programs” while providing our older, disconnected young people with a chance to start a career. This nationally recognized program will ensure our young people are workforce ready with the job and life skills necessary to succeed.
Another major piece of our budget was public safety, accounting for almost 22% of the funds that were allocated. I am pleased that the County Council fully funded our proposed budget for public safety, which includes funding for 100 new police officers, 48 new Fire/EMS personnel, and 60 new Correctional Officers. I’m very proud that over the last eight years, we’ve seen record crime reduction in Prince George’s County. This investment will ensure we remain on that downward trend and have the resources to deal with other safety issues in our County, such as traffic enforcement to keep our roads safe.
Outside of education and public safety, we had to carefully allocate the remaining portions of the budget among County agencies. One of the first things we did when I took office was meet with each agency so we could better understand what their needs were. There were two
resounding themes among each agency: technology and personnel. We unfortunately learned that there are still triplicate forms for employee evaluations, and that’s not how we should be doing things anymore. One director even said it was like walking into 1985 when he arrived at his agency. That’s why our goal for this budget was to invest in modernizing our government so we can better provide efficient and effective services to our residents and businesses.
That’s why I’m proud that the FY2020 budget included several key components that will go a long way in modernizing our government. We provided additional inspectors within DPIE to help improve the speed and efficiency of our permitting process, which will not only benefit
residents but will also help attract more businesses to the County. We funded new positions within the Department of the Environment to help with bulk trash removal, something we know our residents are concerned about. And finally, we are investing in technology improvements for the Office of Human Resources Management and the Office of Central Services, helping to improve the hiring process within our government and improve the procurement process.
We are also expanding the County’s composting program, allowing residents to compost food scraps that would be collected on Mondays along with yard trimmings. I’m proud to say that the Council approved the $200,000 needed to begin expansion of the program later this year. So, please stay tuned for further updates on the composting program in the near future.
I want to say thank you to every Prince Georgian who made their voice heard in this process. We received feedback at town halls, civic associations and public hearings, through emails, phone calls, and more. Your input was truly valued and guided many of the decisions that were made on how to allocate our resources. I believe this is a solid budget that will continue moving our County forward, and I sincerely hope we have made you proud.
Thank you again to our County Council colleagues, our OMB team, and most importantly, to every Prince Georgian who placed their trust in us. With this budget, Prince George’s County will remain the crown jewel of Maryland.
Yours in service,
Prince George’s County Executive