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Keyword: infrastructure

$76.7 million included for social safety net

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz presented the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Message and State of the County Address to the County Council this morning.

The County’s General Fund Operating Budget for FY 2017 is $1.99 billion, an increase of 1.27% above the previous year. The budget is within the Council’s spending affordability guidelines.

This year’s capital budget totals more than $383 million, including $127 million in PAYGO funds. $195.7 million, or 51% of the total, is dedicated to school renovation and construction projects for Baltimore County Public Schools.

Budget holds line on taxes and maintains bond rating

  • No increase in property tax rate – 28th year in a row
  • No increase in income tax rate – 24th year in a row
  • Maintains Triple AAA bond rating – one of only 42 counties in the nation to achieve top rating from all three Wall Street agencies

Labor Agreements

  • 2% COLA for general government and Baltimore County Public Schools, CCBC and BCPL employees

Education highlights:

  • $195.7 million for school renovation and construction projects
  • $66.4 million in PAYGO (general funds and debt premium) for BCPS capital projects

$1.3 billion Schools for our Future

  • 15 new schools
  • 11 additions
  • Every Baltimore County Public School will have central air conditioning
  • Providing central air conditioning for an additional 50,563 students
  • 12,289 new seats built
  • Net gain of 7,925 new seats

New Schools

Bedford Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Berkshire Elementary, funded July 1, 2018

Catonsville Elementary, opens August 2016

Chadwick Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Colgate Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Dundalk Elementary, funded July 1, 2017

Lansdowne Elementary, opens August 2018

Lyons Mill Elementary School, opened August 2015

Mays Chapel Elementary School, opened August 2014

NE area- Joppa Road site, opens August 2018

NE area- Ridge Road site, funded July 1, 2019

Relay Elementary, opens August 2017

Summit Park Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Victory Villa Elementary, opens August 2018

Westowne Elementary, opens August 2016

Additions

Deer Park Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Fort Garrison Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Hampton Elementary School, opened August 2013

Hereford High School, opened August 2015

Padonia International Elementary, opens August 2017

Pikesville High School, complete August 2016

Red House Run Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Scotts Branch Elementary, funded July 1, 2019

Sparks Elementary School, opened August 2015

Stoneleigh Elementary School, opened August 2013

Westchester Elementary, opens August 2016

Central Air Conditioning Project Installation Schedule

August 2016

August 2017

August 2018

August 2019

Carney ES
Chase ES
Halstead ES
Hawthorne ES
Joppa View ES
Villa Cresta ES

Baltimore Highlands ES
Bear Creek ES
Chapel Hill ES
Edmondson Heights ES
Franklin MS
Grange ES
Kingsville ES
Oakleigh ES
Overlea HS
Pleasant Plains ES
Pot Spring ES

Arbutus MS
Battle Grove ES
Charlesmont ES
Church Lane ES
Dumbarton MS
Reisterstown ES
Orems ES

Dulaney HS
Franklin HS
Golden Ring MS
Kenwood HS
Lansdowne HS
Middle River MS
Patapsco Center for the Arts
Southwest Academy
Stemmers Run MS
Woodlawn HS

Other education highlights:

  • 130 new teaching positions for BCPS (below)
  • 76.6 teachers to support enrollment growth
  • 4 teachers to support foreign language in 4th grade
  • 26.6 additional ESOL teachers
  • 20 additional teachers for special education and teachers of at-risk youth
  • 2.5 positions for pre-kindergarten

"One constant during my time with Baltimore County has been the incredible support of Team BCPS partners and two of the strongest examples are County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and the members of the County Council.  Their commitment to not only our academic initiatives but also to modernizing existing schools and building new schools to accommodate our growing student population has been unwavering and deliberate.  I applaud our County's unwavering commitment to education, and I look forward to our continued collaboration on behalf of our 111,000 plus students,” said Dr. S. Dallas Dance, Baltimore County Public School Superintendent.

Budget Highlights

  • $349 million for public safety (Police, Fire, Corrections and 911) – 18% of general fund budget
  • $76.8 million to support social safety net programs to support Health and Human Services, homeless programs, support for seniors, housing opportunities and assistance to victims of domestic violence
  • $52.8 million to support culture and leisure in Baltimore County and the region
    • $32.8 million Baltimore County Public Library
    • $11 million Recreation and Parks            
    • $9 million in grants for nonprofits supporting the arts, entrepreneurship, and health and human services

Budget Description

FY15

FY16

%Change

FY17

%Change

General Fund Operating Budget (Including one-time expenditures and pending FY16 $9.75M snow removal supplemental appropriation.)

1,839,452,699

1,961,532,630

6.64%

1,986,516,077

1.27%

Capital Budget Highlights

  • $26.5 million for road resurfacing
  • $12.9 million for technology upgrades
  • $2.7 million to:
    • Replace turf at Catonsville High School and CCBC Essex
    • Install turf fields at Milford Mill Academy and Sparrows Point High School
    • Light an additional all-purpose field at Spring Grove
  • $1.7 million for renovation of the Health and Career Technology Center at CCBC Essex
  • $1 million for capital improvements to the Catonsville, Randallstown and Reisterstown libraries

Below are direct excerpts from the County Executive’s speech:

Role of Government

During a year of increasingly divisive politics, we ask the fundamental question: what is the role of government? Is it the narrow path of providing basic services, filling potholes, perhaps picking up the trash? Or is it broader, where government can be fiscally responsible, offer reliable and even innovative services, but also establish an ascending moral vision of our duty as fellow citizens? I believe that in Baltimore County, guided by our sound values and principles, we must pursue our responsibilities with even greater vigor. 

Responsible Fiscal Management

Fiscal responsibility is the cornerstone of any well-managed government. Once again, our proposed budget is within the County Council’s spending affordability guidelines, with no increase in the tax rates. With this budget, it will be 28 years since we last raised the property tax rate and 24 years since we last raised the income tax rate. This commitment to fiscal stewardship has earned us the coveted AAA bond rating from all three rating agencies, and we are just one of only 42 counties, out of more than 3,000 nationwide, to earn this mark of fiscal excellence. This allows us to pay the lowest interest rates possible when we borrow money. In fact, since 2010, our Triple AAA rating has saved taxpayers $38 million in interest.

The Priority of Education

We are now more than halfway through our unprecedented $1.3 billion Schools for our Future initiative, and with the passage of this budget and the funding request for the next three referenda, we will have built 15 new schools and 11 additions, adding more than 8,500 new classroom seats to accommodate future growth. 

This budget will also reduce the number of schools without central air conditioning to just 10 — down from 90 only six years ago — and those final 10 schools are on track to have central air conditioning installed by 2019, completing our mission to ensure comfortable learning environments for every single student in Baltimore County. In the near future, hot classrooms will be a thing of the past, and it would not have happened without the support of our County Council and state delegation in Annapolis. We also recognize that a responsible government plans for future enrollment growth, and over the next year, Dr. Dance and I will be working together to address our high school enrollment needs for the coming decades.
 

A Safe Community

Whether our loved ones are at school, work, or out and about in our neighborhoods, we want to know they are safe. Communities cannot thrive unless parents feel good about letting their children walk to the store or ride their bikes to the park. Each of us wants to wake up in the morning knowing Baltimore County is a place that promotes positive values and welcomes diverse opinion.

The crime rate in Baltimore County is at historic lows, with clearance rates exceeding both state and national standards. Our fire and medic service is one of the best in the country.  I am proud of our esteemed public safety officials, Police Chief James Johnson and Fire Chief John Hohman, both of whom are doing an outstanding job.  I thank all our public safety employees for their unwavering dedication to safeguarding our county.

The success of public safety, however, goes far beyond statistics. As leaders of the region, we must acknowledge the national conversation that is taking place about law enforcement policies and police-community relations. The past 18 months have been particularly challenging for police departments and neighborhoods in almost every state in the union.

There is no doubt that families of all backgrounds are increasingly worried when their teenagers go outside to spend time with friends. There is also no doubt that every family of a police officer worries more than ever when their loved one leaves the house to protect us on a daily basis.

With the need to protect both our citizens and our police officers, we recognized that our forward-looking county would benefit from a police body camera program to improve public safety, enhance transparency and trust, reduce complaints and make prosecutions more effective. This program, using speed camera revenue, will be initiated in every Baltimore County precinct starting July 1 and fully implemented over the next two years.

We are also strengthening our already robust outreach efforts. In addition to our longstanding partnerships with the Police Community Relations Councils and other groups, department outreach personnel are increasing their efforts to build relationships among communities that have not traditionally interacted with police.

To help emergency care reach citizens faster, our fire department placed four additional medic units in service and opened the new Towson Fire Station. We also supplied all career and volunteer firefighters with $5 million in new breathing apparatus to better protect them from the dangerous conditions they so often encounter.

We are also grateful for the service provided by our volunteer fire and EMS companies, and we are pleased to provide them with a 9.2% increase in funding. We also propose a $350,000 increase for our volunteer companies’ most successful initiative, the attended medic program, which increases citizen access to medic services at peak hours of demand.

We also recognize that if we want people to have confidence in the decisions made by our public safety personnel, our rank and file must reflect the diversity of the people that they protect. Chiefs Johnson and Hohman have done an excellent work in this endeavor. As a result, our police and fire recruit classes have averaged 40% non-white male, better reflecting an increasingly diverse Baltimore County. Our diversity is represented not only in the rank and file of our police department, but also in its highest levels of command.  And the percentage of female fire fighters in Baltimore County is among the highest in the nation. Working together with our communities, we are one county.  

A Strong Local Economy

A critical role of our county government is to grow jobs and strengthen our local economy. When I first took office, we were in the midst of the worst economic downturn since 1929. The unemployment rate in the county stood at 8.1%. Today that rate has been driven down to 5%, and we’ve added 33,251 jobs.

This type of recovery has not occurred everywhere though, and while there are certainly macro-economic forces at play, Baltimore County has continued to support those fundamental drivers that allow us to maintain a strong and robust economy. This budget is a reflection of our understanding of what it takes to grow jobs, maintain business and create new ones.

We know that businesses require stable tax rates, an educated work force, and a high quality of life for their employees. We’re achieving that in Baltimore County with an unprecedented commitment to education and public safety and investments in our aging infrastructure, parks and green space, all while keeping our property and income tax rates flat. 

And it’s working. This commitment to the fundamentals of job growth and a strong economy have led to more than $1 billion of private investment in Towson, more than $750 million in Owings Mills, and a Sparrows Point with a real and tangible future — a future with 10,000 family-supporting jobs. Major employers want to stay here, too. McCormick Spice, Care First and Social Security all chose to remain in Baltimore County after investigating potential moves.  When companies expand and jobs are created, the dollars to invest in our county also grow. 

Keeping our County Clean, Green and Strong

Pope Francis did an extraordinary thing last year when he released an encyclical on the environment, calling on us all to work together to take “good care of our common home” – the Earth. Simply put, citizens, businesses and government must collaborate to become better stewards of our beloved home.

Almost 50 years ago, the County adopted the Urban-Rural Demarcation Line, which, along with conservative land use and environmental practices, has helped our Department of Planning preserve vital natural and agricultural resources in our rural areas. Indeed, two-thirds of our county remains rural. Baltimore County has placed more than 63,000 acres under easement, including 726 acres this past year. Our county is ranked first among counties for Maryland Environmental Trust donated easements, third for Rural Legacy and fourth for agricultural easements.

When it comes to planting trees, Baltimore County is a leader among Maryland counties through our Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability’s aggressive reforestation program, which planted 71 acres of trees this past year, helping us earn our 12th Tree City USA designation just last week from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Ask any Baltimore County resident what their favorite summertime activity is, and there is a good chance that it involves water. With 200 miles of waterfront and more than 2,000 miles of streams and rivers, our connection to the Bay is personal. It’s catching that first rockfish off the pier. It’s boating at Marshy Point, and it’s watching the sunset over the Key Bridge in Eastern Baltimore County.

It is easy to understand why we’re working hard to protect our natural treasure. Our Department of Environment Protection and Sustainability, led by Director Vince Gardina, has completed more than $60 million in stream restoration, shoreline stabilization, reforestation and other water-quality projects since 2011 to preserve and restore our natural infrastructure, with more than $77 million in additional projects planned.

Regional Partner

The aspiring goal of our county government is to formulate policies that keep us heading in the right direction. We can’t look to the future without building on the principles that have guided us in the past.  Just as we tend to our families, we also care for our neighbors down the street. This requires us to examine not just the needs of our residents, but also those who live within our shared region. If we are to create the kind of Baltimore County that we want our children to be proud of, we must recognize the important role that Baltimore City plays in our county, in our region and in our state.

That is why we continue to dedicate nearly $3 million in this budget to support regional arts and cultural institutions in the city. And that is why we were there last spring to lend a helping hand, and not with a bill in our hand, when the City needed it most. It also requires us to invest in new strategies in the coming year that are designed to encourage employment training and growth for our entire region. I am also proud that, after years of negotiation, the County resolved a longstanding housing discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which allows us to move forward with a reasonable plan to encourage affordable housing be made available to people who share the values of low crime, quality education and access to jobs. I thank County Attorney Mike Field, Planning Director Andrea Van Arsdale and their teams for reaching this agreement with the federal government.

Living Up to our Values

Government will ultimately be judged by how it treats the least fortunate among us. Knowing there are many for whom life’s challenges seem insurmountable, our values demand that we take action to care for the homeless, look after our senior citizens, help people find quality housing and assist those struggling with substance abuse and domestic violence. The work performed each day by Andrea Van Arsdale, Dr. Gregory Branch, Barry Williams, Deborah Richardson, Joanne Williams and their departments reflect this aspirational view of government.

Whether it be through new substance abuse initiatives, a modern homeless shelter replacing trailers, a transitional housing facility for battered women and children, a new PAL center, educational programs for our inmates, or even outreach to homebound seniors, we are committed to leaving no one behind on our watch. With that in mind, this budget includes more than $76 million to provide crucial services so our friends and neighbors can get back on their feet and live life to the fullest.

I often note that Baltimore County is more populous than four states, yet we continue to operate with the finer principles of a small town, where we know our neighbors’ names and look out for one another. We are proud of what we have done to make our county a more accessible and inviting place for all.

State of the County

Looking around this room, I feel an incredible sense of pride when I think about what we have accomplished since 2010. Working together, we helped mitigate the effects of the Great Recession. We made our streets safe and our schools strong. We faced the challenge of rebuilding our aging infrastructure. We protected our environment and the vulnerable among us while growing our economy. As a result, the state of our county is strong.

Message Link

The County Executive’s Budget Message and State of the County address is available on the County website at www.baltimorecountymd.gov/speeches.

The County Council is scheduled to vote on the budget May 26, 2016.


Upgrades needed to reduce risk of future breaks, overflows

Pursuant to a 2005 Consent Decree with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Baltimore County continues to undertake significant infrastructure improvements to its aging water and sewer system.  The extensive upgrades, payable through the regional Metropolitan District fund, will provide enhanced environmental benefits and reduce the risk of future pipeline breaks and sewage overflows.

“These ongoing improvements must be made to protect our citizens, now and for the next generation.  As a responsible government, we must bite the bullet now and not kick the can down the road," said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. "With our obligation under the federal decree, along with the requirement that by law the Metropolitan District fund must be self-supporting, we must adjust the rates over the next two years. This will also satisfy the concerns of the Wall Street rating agencies that the current funding level is not sufficient."

Standard and Poor’s Rating Services recently warned County officials that its Metropolitan District fund was no longer keeping pace with the County’s required repairs. Its recent report stated that, “The County’s debt and liability factor score changed from strong to weak and reflects the now only partial self-support provided to the County’s Metropolitan District bonds.”

Ed Adams, County Director of Public Works, noted that, "Water main breaks and sewage overflows continue to occur, even with the increased efforts of the past decade. Our goal is a reliable water distribution system along with a sewer collection system that has no overflows. Baltimore County has 200 miles of waterfront, and our residents have a special connection with the Chesapeake Bay. Sewage overflows present a health hazard to the Bay and the entire watershed. As anyone who owns an older home can attest, pipes that are 60 and 70 years old are just a disaster waiting to happen.”

To comply with the law and maintain the solvency of the Metropolitan District fund, the County must boost user contribution by $54 million over the next two years for replacement of water pipes, relining of sewer pipes, and upgrading of treatment plants that will provide the highest level of sewage treatment technology to enhance treated water quality that discharges into the Chesapeake Bay.

The majority of county residences receive the benefit of public water and sewer service through the Metropolitan District.  The District was created through an Act of General Assembly in 1924, providing a regional water and sewer system owned and operated by Baltimore City, but drawing from County reservoirs with multiple treatment facilities located in the County.  County residents also pay quarterly water usage fees to Baltimore City.

 Aging infrastructure

Through the Metropolitan District, Baltimore County maintains 3,160 miles of sewer lines and another 2,139 miles of water lines. Sixty percent of the County's water and sewer pipes are more than fifty years old, which is the average life span of a water and sewer pipe. More than half of all the County's pipes were installed before 1970, with the greatest percentage installed in the 1950s.

The Back River Treatment Plant was completed in 1911, and the Patapsco treatment facility became operational in 1940.  County users also pay a pro-rata consumption share toward facilities located in the City but utilized for the benefit of all users. The City's Montebello Water Filtration Plant No. 1 was built in 1915, and the Montebello Filtration Plant No. 2 was built in 1928. The City's Ashburton Water Filtration plant was completed in 1956.

Federal Consent Decree Upgrades

More than ten years ago, the federal government required that the County improve the sewer system and to halt all sewage overflows – following similar requirements the federal Government had negotiated with jurisdictions throughout the nation. In September, 2005, Baltimore County entered into a consent agreement with the EPA, the MDE and the Department of Justice with respect to the sanitary sewer system.

The Consent Decree required a complete inspection of the system – more than 3,000 miles of sewer line and 117 pumping stations in 23 sewer sheds (areas where gravity sewer lines drain to a central point). Today almost all of the pipe lines and manholes in the sewer sheds have been inspected and evaluated.  The County is now moving forward with the implementation of the needed repairs identified as part of the inspections and evaluations that have taken place. Miles of pipe, along with hundreds of manholes and house connections, have already been relined or repaired. In addition, more than half of the sewage pumping stations (and those were primarily the largest ones) have been completely modernized or replaced with additional projects on the horizon. 

Significant investments

Since 2005 Baltimore County has invested $499 million in EPA-required projects and essential capital investments. The County’s total investment will total more than $1.6 billion that will encompass a complete investigation, analysis and renovation of the entire system.

That system is not limited to 3,160 miles of sewer pipe, 58,000 manholes and 117 pumping stations. It takes in more than 200 thousand customer connections (laterals), requiring continuous inspection and maintenance. And, most notably, the system includes the cost-sharing partnership with Baltimore City’s two waste treatment facilities. Baltimore County’s contribution to the Back River and Patapsco operations, alone, has averaged $31 million annually over ten years. And today the Back River facility is on the cusp of a $450 million expansion and the Patapsco operation is scheduled for $330 million upgrade. Other upgrades include: The White Marsh Pumping Station and the aging force main leading from it, which had been the cause of major overflows before 2005, were completely renovated in 2008 at a cost of $30 million. The Patapsco Pumping Station, which receives effluent from the entire west side of Baltimore County, was rebuilt between 2008 and 2010 at a cost of $46 million while the

Stemmers Run Station and force main were renovated at the same time at a cost of $39 million.

It is of some note that Baltimore County had planned (and was working on) these projects when the Consent Decree was first being negotiated.

In the past 12 months, the County has completed, or is in the process of completing, $51.2 million of repairs to its aging water and sewer infrastructure.

History of the Metropolitan District

Metropolitan District:

This sewer and water-operating district was created as a separate and financially self-supporting entity under the jurisdiction of Baltimore City to supply water and to provide sewerage and drainage systems to residents of the County living within certain prescribed areas. The water system is actually an extension of the Baltimore City system, which draws water from County reservoirs, treats the water, and then returns it to County residents at cost.  

Water Charges:

County citizens receive quarterly water bills from the City of Baltimore.  These bills are based upon the amount of water that County citizens use.  Baltimore County estimates the amount of water that citizens will use during the fiscal year. 

Sewer Charges: 

The sewer charge is also based on a volumetric rate similar to the water charge, but paid by users annually.  Baltimore County sets the sewer service charge rate based upon the readings on the water meters by Baltimore City.  Basically, this charge assumes that sewer usage can be related to the water bill:  water in = water out.  The increases in this charge are related to significant infrastructure improvements to water, sewer, and filtration systems being implemented by both Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

Fee structure

To pay for these upgrades the County will increase Metropolitan District fees In FY 17 and FY 18, effective July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017:

FY 17

The Sewer Service charge appears on an individual’s property tax bill in July:

Current rate:    $45.40 per 1,000 cubic feet of water consumption

New Rate:       $50.85

The Water Distribution charge also appears on an individual’s property tax bill in July, and it is a flat annual charge based upon the meter size:

Current rate:    $112.83

New Rate:       $126.37

The Metered Water Usage charge is billed to individuals from Baltimore City quarterly:

Current rate:    $16.73 per 1,000 cubic feet of water consumption

New Rate:       $18.74

Average impact on a family of four: $130.20/year

FY 18

The Sewer Service charge appears on an individual’s property tax bill in July:

Current rate:    $50.85 per 1,000 cubic feet of water consumption

New Rate:       $54.92

The Water Distribution charge also appears on an individual’s property tax bill in July, and it is a flat annual charge based upon the meter size:

Current rate:    $126.37

New Rate:       $136.48

The Metered Water Usage charge is billed to individuals from Baltimore City quarterly:

Current rate:    $18.74 per 1,000 cubic feet of water consumption

New Rate:       $20.24

Average impact on a family of four: $97.23/year


Newer UV Technology Speeds Project, Reduces Cost and Disruption

In early September, Baltimore County’s Department of Public Works began relining sewer pipes in Richlyn Manor, a Perry Hall community east of Belair Road.

The project, costing approximately $1 million and scheduled to be completed by spring 2016, will employ ultraviolet light technology on more than two miles of deteriorated sanitary line.

“This project will improve the reliability of an aging infrastructure system in Perry Hall,” said 5th District Councilman David Marks.

Process Easier on Residents

The County’s contractor, Pleasants Construction, Inc. will begin by cleaning sewers on Richlyn Drive, Cross Road, Carlyn Road, Gunforge Road and several smaller, adjacent streets. Crews will then insert fiberglass liners into the pipes. The liners are permeated with a light-activated resin which hardens when exposed to specific light spectra. With the liners in position, a series of high-intensity ultraviolet lamps, set on spokes and mounted on wheels, will be fed through the pipes. As the equipment moves along the conduits, ultraviolet rays will cure the resin, hardening it to a durability difficult to obtain by chemical reaction. This UV curing is similar to a current dental procedure which uses UV light to cure a cavity filler.

The new light-cured liner, which is a relatively new addition to the arsenal of techniques for pipeline repair, is corrosion resistant, durable and cheaper than new, replacement pipes which would require excavation. It is also easier on residents who will live through utility work this winter (most of it out-of-sight) while the system is being improved.  


 
 

Revised April 6, 2016