News Column

Council Member Derrick l. Davis Says Newly-Adopted FY 2015 County Budget is a Commitment to Community Investments: Good News for District Six

June 3, 2014



LARGO, Md., June 3 -- Prince George's County issued the following executive branch news release:

The Prince George's County Council unanimously adopted a balanced $2.85 billion FY2015 County Budget, (Council Bill 34-2014), on Tuesday, May 27. The new spending plan becomes effective with the new Fiscal Year, beginning July 1, 2014.

This budget adoption represents my third budget cycle on the Council. I am proud of the open, inclusive and transparent budget process that this legislative body conducted, which produced a new County spending plan committed to community investments and our shared priorities for economic growth and transit-oriented development; education and job training; and public safety and transportation.

I agree with Council Chairman Mel Franklin that this budget "moves Prince George's County forward." The FY15 approved budget is good news for Prince George's County and District 6 communities. Through leadership and integrity, I worked with my colleagues through our committees to overcome fiscal challenges created by the lasting impact of the national housing crisis, on ongoing structural deficit and a fragile economic recovery, and we delivered a balanced budget that meets our needs without turning to furloughs or layoffs of County workers.

Education remains our highest priority, with 63% of available County resources dedicated to education in FY15--a 6.4% increase over the previous year. In addition, the adopted Fiscal Year 2015-2020 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which reflects my commitment to key infrastructure improvement projects, will renovate Central, Forestville, and Largo high schools and bring these District 6 school buildings into compliance with the Secondary School Reform (SSR) Initiative, which aims to ensure that all students will be college and/or career ready. Funding has also been made available to support a planning study for a Pre-K through 8th grade school in Fairwood.

The Council ensured that an additional $4 million would support Prince George's Community College, located in District 6. This funding will provide for the dual enrollment of as many as 1500 additional County high school students as a part of the College and Career Readiness Completion Act; healthcare training and education in conjunction with the County's anticipated health care expansion related to the new Regional Medical Center and the expansion of Southern Maryland Hospital; and additional scholarships.

Our young people can also celebrate this budget and our growing commitment to summer job opportunities for them. This Council has made incremental investments in this initiative over the years, and in FY 15, we included another $1 million over and above the County Executive's proposal to support the County's summer youth jobs program.

Public safety, the second highest priority, received 20.3% of County funds in FY15. The adopted spending plan funds an additional class of firefighter recruits and three new classes of police recruits, to meet the growing needs of our communities. The budget also provides for $500,000 in funding for a three-bay Fire/EMS station in the Beechtree community, and continuing funding support for the construction of a four-bay Fire/EMS Station at a Shady Glen location. The Council has provided increases in public safety staffing and resources in each of the last three years, contributing to record, historic lows in violent crime in the County, but in FY15 we will also exercise our oversight responsibility to carefully monitor overtime spending on a monthly basis.

Economic Development is the key to expanding our commercial tax base and reducing our heavy reliance on property taxes for revenue. Our balanced plan makes significant investments in infrastructure to support transit-oriented development including the areas around the Largo Metro station, and in pedestrian infrastructure to keep our walkers safe.

Quality recreation and preserving green space are priorities in the approved FY 2015-2020 CIP, which includes resources for additions, rehabilitation, and new construction for the Largo Town Center lake site; Walker Mill Regional Park; Upper Marlboro Community Center; and Westphalia Neighborhood Park. This program also establishes a $100,000Westphalia Central Park Fund to receive construction fees from new dwelling units within the Westphalia Sector Plan area that will help build and maintain this signature regional park feature.

Environmental issues got focused attention in Fiscal Year 2015 as well. Positive strides are being made as we continue to work toward the eventual closure of the Brown Station landfill as the final destination in the County's solid waste stream. The plan is to convert the site to more sustainable activities such as the refinement of the County's gas power generation system, which will bolster the energy security and efficiency of Prince George's County by reusing the byproducts of our waste stream. Composting could lead the County to a desired zero waste reality. Establishing a strong systemic backbone to support this critical capacity makes a necessary investment in the future of Prince George's County.

District 6 is the largest by population and among the largest district by land mass. We are truly a microcosm of Prince George's County. As a result of the adopted FY15 County Budget--a Quality of Life Spending Plan-- District 6 residents stretching from Beechtree to District Heights and Capitol Heights will see more of our residents, including our young people, with new opportunities to learn, work and play in safer, more vibrant, and thriving communities.

For more FY2015 Budget information, visit http://councilbudget.mypgc.us/

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