Kamenetz re­leases FY2018 county bud­get

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By MIA MCCASLIN mm­c­caslin@ches­pub.com

County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kamenetz re­leased Bal­ti­more County’s Fis­cal Year 2018 bud­get on April 13, un­veil­ing a plan that fo­cuses pri­mar­ily school con­struc­tion, pub­lic safety and re­cre­ation, in­clud­ing fund­ing for CCBC Es­sex and a new mid­dle school in Not­ting­ham to re­duce over­crowd­ing at Perry Hall Mid­dle School.

“We speak up for our pri­or­i­ties and what we stand for,” Kame­nentz said in re­marks be­fore the Bal­ti­more County Coun­cil.

“That’s why we pro­tect lives, build schools, ex­pand job train­ing and open new parks and an­i­mal ser­vice cen­ters,” he con­tin­ued. “We plan ahead and bud­get con­ser­va­tively, so we can in­vest in what’s im­por­tant to the peo­ple who live and do busi­ness here.”

The $3.15 bil­lion bud­get does not in­crease in­come or prop­erty tax rates, much like years prior. Prop­erty and in­come tax rates in Bal­ti­more County were last in­creased more than two decades ago.

The high­lights of the county bud­get are out­lined be­low: Fo­cus­ing on ed­u­ca­tion

More than 60 per­cent of the $3.15 bil­lion bud­get has been al­lo­cated to sup­port

pub­lic schools and li­braries as well as the Com­mu­nity Col­lege of Bal­ti­more County.

This bud­getary al­lot­ment re­flects Kame­nentz’s decade-long $1.3 bil­lion Schools for our Fu­ture pro­gram. This pro­gram, be­gin­ning in 2011, was de­signed to ad­dress the grow­ing con­cerns of ris­ing en­roll­ment and ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture. For ev­ery dol­lar that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment pitches in, the county matches it dou­ble.

Un­der this plan, more than 30 projects are cur­rently un­der­way, in­clud­ing 16 new schools, 12 ad­di­tions and 7 “sig­nif­i­cant ren­ova- tions.” As of this date, four new schools and six ren­o­va­tions/ex­pan­sions have been com­pleted.

This county bud­get al­lo­cates money for th con­struc­tion of a new mid­dle school in Not­ting­ham to com­bat over­crowd­ing at Perry Hall Mid­dle School that is set to open in 2021. The Rosedale Cen­ter also re­ceived funds for a new roof and CCBC Es­sex was given $15 mil­lion to­wards the ren­o­va­tion and ex­pan­sion of the new Health Cen­ter and Tech build­ing

Ad­di­tion­ally, un­der the bud­get, for­eign lan­guage pro­grams are be­ing funded more heav­ily, in­clud­ing adding 13 teach­ers in the English for Speak­ers of Other Lan­guages (ESOL) pro­gram and ex­pand­ing the “Passport ini­tia­tive” from 40 to 45 ele­men­tary schools. The Pass- port pro­gram be­gins in­tro­duc­ing young minds to con­ver­sa­tional Span­ish in the fourth grade to in- crease com­pre­hen­sion. Fif­teen ad­di­tional spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion ed­u­ca­tors will also be hired around the county.

In­vest­ing in com­mu­nity safety

The com­mu­nity safety por­tion of the bud­get was pri­mar­ily fo­cused on ded­i­cat­ing money to sup­port the Bal­ti­more County Po­lice Depart­ment’s body cam­era roll­out. Be­cause of this $4.39 mil­lion bud­get al­lot­ment, the Po­lice Depart­ment is re­port­edly “on track to have the pro­gram fully im­ple­mented, as sched­uled, by the end of Septem­ber 2017.” The pro­gram be­gan last July with 150 of­fi­cers wear­ing cam­eras.

The bud­get also funds de­signs for a new $27 mil­lion com­put­eraided dis­patch and emer­gency com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem.

Re­duc­ing home­less­ness

The 2018 county bud­get funds the com­ple­tion of the Eastern Fam­ily Re­source Cen­ter, lo­cated in Rosedale. Fin­ish­ing the fa­cil­ity would dou­ble the num­ber of “tran­si­tional” hous­ing beds for women and chil­dren seek­ing shelter.

“Women and chil­dren who need shelter of­ten are vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and need a safe place to stay for weeks be­fore they se­cure per­ma­nent hous­ing,” Kame­nentz noted. “Our new cen­ter dou­bles the num­ber of tran­si­tional hous­ing beds for women and chil­dren,” he said.

The County Coun­cil is sched­uled to vote on the bud­get May 25, 2017.

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