May 31, 2016
Thursday afternoon I joined with my colleagues to unanimously pass
the $3.12 billion Fiscal Year 2017 Prince George's County General Fund budget
. This budget is an increase of 5.63% over the approved Fiscal Year 2016 General Fund budget due to an increase in the County's commercial tax base and sales of new homes. This budget includes historic investments in social services and family services, areas which have been underfunded in the County for years.
With this budget we are making key investments in public safety, social services, and quality of life issues. The County Executive proposed an investment of $1 million towards domestic violence. The Council added an additional $1.5 million toward crucial initiatives to reduce the occurrences of domestic violence and to support survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. As you know, our community has experienced several devastating tragedies related to domestic violence and we know that incidents occur behind closed doors daily. This increased funding will support the work of County agencies and non-profit organizations, which work on domestic violence issues.
In the Department of Social Services, we increased funding for Child Protective Services and to add counselors to nine additional schools through the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative.
We are investing in public safety by funding three new police classes, two new firefighter classes, one deputy sheriff class and three new correctional officer classes. Together, these add up to more than 350 new public safety officers for our County. These agencies are hiring now.
In the Department of Permits, Inspections and Enforcement, we have allocated funding for the creation of an Enforcement Administrative Hearing Program, a "DPIE Court" so to speak, which will decrease the time it takes to fully enforce code enforcement violations.
In the Department of Public Works and Transportation, the Council has identified additional funding for a $2 million litter control initiative.
Overall, 66.1% of all General Funds are appropriated for education in Prince George's County -- Prince George's County Public Schools, Prince George's Community College and the Prince George's County Memorial Library System. We are fulfilling the promise of CB-33-2015 by dedicating at least 50% of anticipated MGM Resort tax revenues to these crucial educational systems.
The Capital Improvement Project (CIP) budget includes significant funding for building and renovating schools in District 3. It is important to keep in mind that no new school building have been built in District 3 for several decades. 15 of the 19 schools in District 3 are currently overutilized, with a utilization rate of more than 95%. William Wirt MS has a utilization rate of 131% and Beacon Heights Elementary is at 143%. More than 50% of students at all 19 schools qualify for Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS). The CIP budget includes funds for full replacement of William Wirt Middle School and a new middle school in District 3 near Glenridge. Additional CIP funding lays the groundwork for future renovation and expansion for Riverdale Elementary, Berwyn Heights Elementary, Margaret Brent Elementary, and Charles Carroll Middle.
Outside of schools, the CIP budget includes funding for improvements to the new County building in Largo and funding to meet our federal requirements for retrofitting storm water management. We also added $20 million for for sidewalk, curb, and road repairs in the capital budget, roughly tripling the funding available for these repairs.
On July 1, Prince George's County will be even more green. That's when we join neighboring jurisdictions in banning the use and sale of Styrofoam in the County.
On Thursday, June 2, Council Members Lehman, Taveras and I are hosting an event for business owners to learn more about why this ban is being enacted, green alternatives to Styrofoam and polystyrene, and more. We're providing light refreshments from Geppetto's Catering at 6:30pm and the program will begin at 7:00pm.
You are more than welcome to join us, but I would appreciate it if you share this invitation
with your favorite restaurants still using Styrofoam cups or take-out containers!
I'm looking forward to joining Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for a day in the community on Friday, June 10, from 11:30am until 3:00pm. That day, CASA staff, volunteers, community members and I will clean up the stream behind the CASA office. Join us at the CASA Headquarters, 6811 Kenilworth Avenue, Riverdale! You'll help clean the Anacostia watershed and will definitely see first-hand why the polystyrene ban is important. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, never hesitate to reach out to me at CouncilDistrict3@co.pg.md.us or 301-952-3060. You can reach my staff via the same phone number or their email address on the right.
Together Strengthening our Community,
P.S. I share news and updates daily on social media. If you are active on social media, too, please engage with me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.