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Education, Public Safety Top Priorities in $3.285 Billion FY19 Budget

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz delivered his State of the County address and introduced a $3.285 billion budget for fiscal year 2019 in remarks presented to the Baltimore County Council April 12, 2018. Below are highlights from the speech.

Eight Years of Progress

“Together, we’ve made tremendous progress toward a more innovative, responsible and efficient local government.”

  • 15,821 new jobs have been added in the County since I became County Executive.
  • There’s been more than $5 billion in new private investment.
  • The County has invested $1.8 billion to modernize and maintain our aging water and sewer infrastructure, plus $129 million for roads and bridges.
  • We deployed new technology that improves service to our citizens and achieves significant cost savings. Baltimore County is now ranked fourth in the nation for use of technology in government.
  • We have made an historic $1.3 billion investment to upgrade and modernize our schools.

Good Governance

The fiscal year 2019 budget does not increase property tax or income tax rates. The budget stays within spending affordability limits, and funds our schools above maintenance of effort level. The budget includes a 3% cost of living adjustment for employees, effective next January.

#1 Priority: Education

Fifty one percent of next year’s total Baltimore County operating budget is dedicated to our schools, more than $1.67 billion.

Teacher salaries have increased by 12% over the past eight years.

Schools for Our Future is a groundbreaking capital program to modernize our schools, not just for today, but to meet future enrollment needs as the County population continues to grow. This $1.3 billion initiative is building or rebuilding more than 90 schools.

Baltimore County Public Schools have one of the highest graduation rates in the State. There is no disparity in the graduation rates between African American and white students. County schools have earned national honors in music and arts education, digital learning, robotics, and more.

School Safety

Since 2011, Baltimore County has invested $13.6 million to reinforce all school doors and windows, adding security cameras and controlled entry.

“With this budget, we strengthen our school safety system by adding more professionals to help identify mental health issues that can lead to suicide and destructive behaviors.”

If adopted, the FY19 budget would add 22 social workers, 23 counselors and 18 school psychologists in Baltimore County Public Schools, plus additional pupil personnel workers, health assistants, and bus attendants. Nineteen more police School Resource Officers would be funded, increasing the County’s total to 84 officers.

Preparing our Workforce

Baltimore County College Promise

The FY19 budget includes $979,000 for the first year of Baltimore County College Promise – funding that will make college a reality for more than 1,100 students.

College opens up a lifetime of career opportunities. But the cost can mean a dead end for even the most motivated students. That’s why we launched Baltimore County College Promise, with full tuition and fees for qualified students to complete an associate’s degree or workplace certification at the Community College of Baltimore County.”

Job Connector

With low unemployment and a tight job market, companies are ready to hire today. But chronic shortages of qualified workers remain in many high-demand fields. Job Connector partners with employers, labor unions, colleges and universities to build a job-ready workforce.

“We listened to our employers and launched Job Connector, an innovative $2.5 million program that brings a supply-and-demand strategy to workforce development.”

Keeping and growing jobs

“These marquee firms chose to stay in Baltimore County because we’ve created a welcoming business climate, with a superb workforce and responsive local government.”

Stanley Black & Decker is adding 400 new jobs. Care First Blue Cross is keeping 2,200 jobs in the heart of Owings Mills. This summer, 900 McCormick & Company corporate employees will be moving to a new global headquarters in Hunt Valley. Bank of America is adding 900 jobs; 300 hired last year, with 600 more jobs on the way.

The Baltimore County Boost Loan Fund has loaned $4.3 million to small businesses in just four years, with a focus on firms owned by minorities, women, and veterans.

Over $5 billion in new private investment

Tradepoint Atlantic, the massive redevelopment of Sparrows Point, downtown Towson, Greenleigh at Crossroads in Middle River, and Foundry Row, Mill Station and Metro Centre in Owings Mills are leading new private investment and job creation.

“This is economic development that is transforming job prospects and economic opportunity for the entire region.”

Keeping communities healthy

Helping those in need

More than 98,000 people in Baltimore County are food insecure, including 30,000 children. The proposed FY19 budget includes $550,000 to support the Maryland Food Bank.

“In a time of overall prosperity, there are still too many who struggle to make ends meet. The true measure of a government is how we treat people who could use an outstretched hand to get by.”

The County has expanded services to people who experience homelessness. Three years ago the County opened a comprehensive Westside Men’s Shelter, replacing trailers. A new Eastern Family Resource Center opened last fall with expanded health services and shelter beds for men and women. Next year’s budget increases funding for all shelter services by 5%.

Reversing the Opioid Epidemic

Opioid overdoses killed 543 Baltimore County residents from 2016 through the first nine months of 2017. The County launched an aggressive program to make naloxone widely available. Our Department of Health and Human Services has already trained 3,200 residents on how to safely administer this life-saving drug.

The County also is fighting the opioid epidemic by working through the legal system to hold drug manufacturers more accountable.

Keeping communities safe

Baltimore County continues to be a very safe place to live. Since the beginning of 2018, there were five confirmed homicides in Baltimore County, down from thirteen over the same period last year.

“The early overall statistics for 2018 give us reason to be optimistic that crimes of all types will continue to decline in our county.” 

Fourteen hundred police officers have been fully trained and now wear body cameras.

Operation Connect focuses outreach by County police officers to local communities, particularly to youth. Police, firefighters and paramedics undergo rigorous training, with a renewed focus on mental health.

Fire and EMS

The FY19 budget increases funding for volunteer fire companies by 7.4%, bringing County support to $9.8 million next year.

Sustaining a Clean, Green County

“We protect the Bay through our Clean Green County initiative, restoring streambanks and shorelines, planting trees, and sweeping streets. Over eight years, the County has invested $1.8 billion to modernize and maintain our aging water and sewer systems.”

The FY2019 budget includes nearly $27 million to maintain and improve water and sewer infrastructure and reduce water main breaks and sewage spills.

Four years ago, the County opened a new single stream recycling facility to keep materials out of landfills. Sales of recycled materials have already brought the County over $30 million in revenue.

Enriching our quality of life

The County has funded a record $68 million in new parks, community centers and turf fields since 2010.

Next year’s budget includes $3.9 million to support arts, humanities and cultural organizations in Baltimore County and the region.

A $7 million state-of-the-art animal shelter in Baldwin, plus a spay/neuter program at new surgical sites across the county has led to all-time high dog and cat live release rates of 90%. The FY19 budget includes funding for a new animal cruelty investigation unit in the police department.

Respect and Diversity

Public Safety Diversity

The most recent Baltimore County police academy class was 40% women or minority. The class of EMTs and paramedics that graduated last month is 60% women or minority. The Fire Recruit Class now in session is 67% women or minority.

The Baltimore County Fire Department is recognized nationally as a leader in promoting gender diversity, with women now making up almost one quarter of its sworn members. The national average is just 4%.

Respect for All

“As a civil and moral society, we must acknowledge and respect everyone who lives here.”

“In 2017, as a result of our Executive Order, County employees, including police, may not ask a person’s immigration status. Three years ago, before Charlottesville, we removed a symbol of hate from our community, renaming Robert E. Lee Park as Lake Roland. In 2012, I proudly signed legislation that added gender identity and sexual orientation to the county's existing anti-discrimination laws.”

The County Council is scheduled to vote on the budget on May 24, 2018.

Read the full text of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s 2018 State of the County address and fiscal year 2019 Budget Message.


Kamenetz reports that 56% of new class is minority or female

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that the police recruit class that began this week continues to move the County forward toward his goal of ensuring that the police department reflects the communities it serves. Minorities or women comprise 56 percent of the class that began Monday, June 12; African Americans comprise 34 percent. Over the past six years, the County’s recruit classes have averaged more than 40% minority and nearly 30% female candidates, while continuing to attract an outstanding caliber of officers.

“In 2011, I made a commitment to the people of Baltimore County that we would increase the number of minorities and females in the Baltimore County Police Department,” said Kamenetz.  “As a result of these efforts, our communities are safer than ever because people have more confidence in the decisions that police officers make when the department reflects the diversity of the community.”

“Kevin Kamenetz is a man of his word,” said Bishop Dwayne C. Debnam, Pastor of the Morning Star Baptist Church. “From day one he said that he would diversify the Baltimore County Police Department, and he has done just that. This is what leadership looks like.”

“I am very proud of the concerted effort that the police department has put forth in an effort to diversify our ranks,” said Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan. “These types of recruitment numbers don’t just happen, they are the result of a very strategic and focused effort by our recruit staff.”

The police department has used a number of traditional and non-traditional methods to attract minority and female candidates, including ads on radio, television and MTA busses; college recruitment, community information sessions and extensive outreach to community and faith-based organizations.

“There is no more important responsibility as County Executive than to make our communities safe and secure,” concluded County Executive Kamenetz. “We have outstanding men and women who protect us each and every day, and when the department reflects the County’s growing diversity, our officers and our citizens are safer.”


Latest Ruling Consistent with Baltimore County Executive Order on Immigration 

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz issued the following statement in response to today’s 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upholds a lower court ruling blocking President Trump’s travel ban:

"I commend the United States 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision today to uphold the lower court ruling that blocked President Trump’s travel ban. This new ruling affirms my recent Executive Order in Baltimore County, which states that we will not unlawfully profile the immigration status of our residents."

The complete text of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s April 5, 2017 Executive Order is below:

 

EXECUTIVE ORDER

LAW ENFORCEMENT STANDARDS ON IMMIGRATION STATUS, DIVERSITY AND EQUITY

                WHEREAS, Baltimore County residents fully support our country's rich heritage of welcoming immigrants from around the world who come to America seeking a better life in pursuit of the American Dream; and

                WHEREAS, Baltimore County has welcomed an increasingly diverse population that parallels statewide demographics; and

                WHEREAS, Baltimore County recognizes that public trust and confidence in local government and law enforcement policies are essential to a fair and orderly government; and

                WHEREAS, the Baltimore County Police Department prides itself on the positive relationship that it has maintained with the County’s resident population, including its immigrant community,  and maintenance of positive relationships are key to keeping our neighborhoods safe; and

                WHEREAS, as part of that relationship, all residents must feel safe and secure to cooperate with Baltimore County Police Officers to report crimes and offer assistance in resolving criminal activity; and

                WHEREAS, from time to time it is necessary to reiterate the policies and precepts necessary to maintain public order and discourse, consistent with the laws of the county, state, and federal governments, their respective judicial branch holdings, and the Constitutions of Maryland and the United States.

                NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kevin Kamenetz, as County Executive of Baltimore County, on this 5th day of April 2017, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Baltimore County Charter, do hereby promulgate the following EXECUTIVE ORDER for Baltimore County, Maryland:

                1. No Baltimore County Department, agency, officer or employee shall discriminate against any person within Baltimore County based on confirmed or suspected race, creed, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, status as a veteran, physical or mental disability, immigration status, and/or inability to speak English.

                2. No Baltimore County Department, agency, officer or employee shall condition the provision of County services or benefits on the immigration status of the individual seeking those services or benefits unless such conditions are lawfully imposed by federal or state law.

                3. No Baltimore County Police Officer shall make inquiry of a person's immigration status for the purpose of initiating civil enforcement of immigration proceedings, except in the case of a criminal warrant signed by a judicial official.

                4.  No personnel within the Police Department or Department of Corrections shall cause to be detained any individual beyond their court ordered release date, except upon reasonable belief of the existence of an order of detainer issued by a properly recognized judicial official.

                5. Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to prohibit any Baltimore County Police Officer or employee from participating in task force activities with county, state or federal criminal law enforcement authorities.

                6. Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to prohibit any Baltimore County Police Officer from investigating violations of criminal law.

                7. Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to prohibit any Baltimore County Police Officer from cooperating with federal immigration authorities in the investigation and apprehension of undocumented immigrants suspected of criminal activity.

                8. This Executive Order shall take effect immediately according to its terms.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017