May is budget month for the Anne Arundel County Council, and Councilman Dick Ladd (R-5th District) of Broadneck has called the budget "fair, balanced," and praised its elimination of furlough days for county employees.
Ladd issued a letter to the Broadneck Patch this week outlining his support for the budget, along with some key notes. Among the highlights of Ladd's budget briefing:
- Furlough days for county employees are eliminated, but so are 71 positions.
- 's renovation will be funded, but 's construction will be delayed.
- Ladd supports the notion of , but noted that the allotted $1.2 million more in funding isn't enough.
- An $8.8 million new police station in Pasadena is proposed to serve Severna Park and Broadneck.
The following is the complete letter sent to Broadneck Patch by Ladd on Tuesday.
County Executive Leopold delivered his Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) budget on April 16. He opened his remarks with two steps my colleagues and I urged him to take: the elimination of furlough days for county employees and once-a-week trash collection based on the increasingly successful county recycling program.
Overall, in my opinion, the budget is fair, balanced, and projects $57 million in increased revenue and spending, or an increase of 4.8 percent. The additional revenue comes from three sources: $20 million from a 3.1 cent property tax increase consistent with the county’s Property Tax Revenue Cap; $23 million from increased income taxes based on rising income levels; and $15 million in shared State “slots” revenue.
The increased spending over last year’s levels provides for: elimination of furlough days for county employees ($4.9 million); restoration of last year’s one-time use of AACC fund balance in FY12 ($4.9 million); increased library operating hours ($1.1 million); Board of Education (BoE) maintenance of effort funding ($4.9 million) and the state-mandated teacher pension payment ($11.5 million); increased debt service ($5 million for BoE); funding of 14 “frozen” authorized equipment operators and increased fuel costs ($1.8 million) for DPW; 15 additional police officers and allowance restoration ($7 million); restoration of last year’s one-time use of the County Economic Development Corporation fund balance in FY12 ($1 million); and provides FY13 “pay go” funding on various capital construction projects ($19.5 million).
Of particular note is that furlough and allowance restoration means yet another year of no pay raises for employees. The budget also calls for the elimination of 71 county positions through attrition including the Fire Department’s 4th shift.
Storm water management is a very important part of Severna Park and the Broadneck peninsula’s infrastructure. Happily, the FY13 request has been increased $1.2 million over last year’s estimate to $3.7 million. This is a positive step but not enough to stop the continued growth of backlogged storm water runoff maintenance. Fortunately, restoration work has been funded for the North Branch of Cypress Creek near McKinsey Park and also at the headwater of Mill Creek near the Community College.
It is my desire to see sufficient near-term funding to eliminate the storm water runoff maintenance backlog within five years. Whether this should be done within the general fund budget or whether it is better funded by a dedicated county level, State mandated, storm water runoff fee remains to be determined. Currently, I favor the latter.
The county proposed school construction program answered a very important question for Severna Park:
Will the policy of keeping one high school actively under construction with elementary schools scheduled as funding permits be continued?
I think the answer is yes! The county’s’ budget supports the Board of Education’s requested funding for with major construction starting in fiscal year 14 (July 2013). I thank Councilman Jerry Walker for publicly supporting that policy with me before the Board of Education. Under that policy, three elementary school projects will be started in FY13: Lothian, Annapolis, and Point Pleasant. Unfortunately, several of the elementary schools proposed for funding by the BoE, including Benfield, will be delayed several years under current economic conditions. This decision and the amount of 2013 Maintenance of Effort funding are likely to be thoroughly discussed during budget deliberations.
Also included in the request is $8.8 million for a new Eastern District Police Station in Pasadena, which will serve Severna Park and the Broadneck Peninsula.
The council will hold public hearings on the proposed FY13 budget on Wednesday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m. at the Arundel Center in Annapolis and on Monday, May 14 at 7:00 p.m. at Old Mill High School.
I would encourage you to view the budget on the county website, www.aacounty.org and come out to one of the hearings to express your views and concerns or your support of the budget. Of course, you can always call my office 410-222-1401 or e-mail me at email@example.com to share your thoughts with me. I shall look forward to hearing from you.
After approving the FY13 budget by June 1, the council will consider the recommendations of the Charter Review Commission, which I will discuss in my next article.