Kamenetz releases FY2018 county budget
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.
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.