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Keyword: budget

FY21 Budget Released Amid Significant Economic Uncertainty Caused by COVID-19 Pandemic

Amid the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today submitted to the County Council a $3.9 billion budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021 that prioritizes fundamental commitments to providing quality education, keeping neighborhoods safe and supporting the County’s workforce to ensure residents can continue to receive essential government services.

The proposed budget for FY21 reflects an approximate $40 million write-down from earlier revenue estimates, due to the growing economic impact of the pandemic, while also providing funds for key priorities that will move Baltimore County forward, including economic opportunity, sustainability, healthy and safe communities, and transparent and accountable government.

“This is not the budget I hoped to present, but it is the one that meets the moment. We are laser-focused on responding to the immediate needs of this crisis even as we prepare our County for the long-term economic recovery.” Olszewski said. “We will get through this together, continuing to build toward our vision for a better Baltimore County for us all.”

Budget Highlights

In a virtual address to the County Council, Olszewski highlighted record investments in education and support for key priorities that will move Baltimore County forward. The total proposed Operating Budget is $3.9 billion.

Below are highlights of the FY21 budget County Executive Olszewski submitted to the Baltimore County Council.

Education

  • Provides record funding for education for the second year in a row. Total proposed education budget is more than $2 billion. The proposed BCPS budget is nearly $36 million above FY20 funding levels and $20 million over Maintenance of Effort (MOE).
  • Provides a one percent cost-of-living increase for all Baltimore County Public Schools employees, effective July 1, 2020.
  • Provides more than $1 million to hire additional school counselors and support staff to help address the mental health, social and emotional needs of our students.
  • Provides funding to support the Early College High School program at Woodlawn High School and the Pathways in Technology program at Dundalk High School.
  • Protects Baltimore County’s portion of capital funding for all remaining Schools for our Future projects, which cannot move forward until the state provides its share of funding from the Built to Learn Act.

Healthy and Safe Communities

  • Provides funding to realize critical components of County Executive Olszewski’s public safety plan, including support for the Real Time Crime Center and focused enforcement initiatives.
  • Provides the first phase of funding for a second set of turnout gear for firefighters.
  • Provides capital funding for two, new school-based Police Athletic League (PAL) Centers through the Department of Recreation and Parks.

Transparent, Accountable Government

  • Retains a 10.3 percent fund balance—critical for maintaining the County’s bond ratings.
  • Provides funding for full implementation of Baltimore County’s newly operational 311 program.
  • Expands the Baltimore County Office of Ethics and Accountability.
  • Creates an Audit Compliance Unit to ensure that audit findings are effectively deployed to improve County operations and help track tens of millions of dollars in COVID-related expenditures.

Vibrant, Livable Communities

  • Provides a previously announced, two percent cost-of-living increase for all County employees effective June 30, 2020. The proposed budget also includes a previously negotiated two percent cost‐of‐living increase for County employees, effective January 1, 2021.
  • Provides funds for planning and implementation of the Towson Circulator pilot program, leveraging a $1.6 million federal grant.
  • Provides funding to resume glass recycling, which the prior administration suspended.
  • Adds $1 million to support volunteer fire companies.
  • Provides new funding for park acquisition and a more equitable distribution of park and recreational infrastructure.

Economic Opportunity

  • Provides funding to expand employer-driven workforce strategies.
  • Freezes in-County tuition at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC).
  • Ensures stability of College Promise Program, enabling CCBC to accept approximately 300 additional students.

Commitment to Critical Investments

Under state enabling legislation, the administration will introduce a bill to allow the placement of enforcement cameras on our school buses to more effectively catch drivers who continue to disregard the prohibition on passing stopped school buses. All revenue collected from this effort will be dedicated to support public safety efforts.

As the economic impact of COVID-19 continues to shift, the Office of Budget and Finance will continue to work with the legislative branch during their budget review as the latest information and projections are available.

The County Council is scheduled to vote on the budget on May 21.

View the full text of the County Executive’s FY21 budget message.


Online Survey Allows Residents to Share Priorities for FY2021 Budget

As he crafts the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski is seeking residents’ input through a new, simple online survey.

The survey released today provides a number of options for residents to consider and provides them an opportunity to indicate which options they consider priorities.

“We can only craft a budget that addresses the needs of our communities when we hear directly from our residents about their priorities,” Olszewski said. “The people of Baltimore County are our partners in progress, and their voices are critical to ensuring that we can improve our quality of life and move Baltimore County forward.”

Olszewski will introduce his FY2021 budget to the County Council on Tuesday, April 14.

About the Town Hall Meetings

The survey is the latest opportunity for County residents to share their ideas and priorities with County leadership. In addition to the survey, the County Executive is holding a series of town hall meetings in each council district to hear directly from residents about their thoughts and concerns. The next town hall meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, at Owings Mills High School.

Hundreds of residents have already attended 2020 budget town halls where they have shared a number of critical priorities, ranging from public safety and education to land preservation and code enforcement.

The survey asks about these and other priorities, allowing participants to rank items indicating which items they consider top priorities, which are less important and which items they would not fund.

In the two years prior to Olszewski taking office, a total of two people testified on Baltimore County’s budget. However, the County Executive has made public engagement a priority and, in 2018, during his first year in office, more than 2,000 residents attended his inaugural town hall series, with hundreds sharing priorities for the County.


All Three Major Ratings Agencies Affirmed Baltimore County’s Creditworthiness, Acknowledged Efforts to Put Baltimore County on Stronger Fiscal Footing

Baltimore County has retained its triple-A bond ratings from all three major rating agencies, allowing the County to continue issuing bonds at the lowest possible interest rate—saving millions of dollars for County taxpayers.

Moody’s Investor Service, Fitch Ratings, and S&P Global Ratings have each affirmed the County’s triple-A rating, making Baltimore County one of only 49 counties nationwide to receive the highest rating from all three agencies.

“Our strong, diverse, and growing economy—as well as our efforts to address our County’s fiscal challenges head-on—has ensured Baltimore County has maintained the top-tier rating,” Olszewski said. “While we’ve taken critical steps to place Baltimore County on stronger fiscal footing, we must and will continue to balance future investments in our priorities and obligations, allowing us to make the investments needed without risking our county’s long-term fiscal health.”

In their reports, the rating agencies noted Baltimore County’s very strong economy, very strong management and diverse tax base. The ratings also incorporate the new financial policies and revenue enhancements that the County’s new administration team is implementing.

The Administration’s first budget closed an $81 million deficit and trimmed $35 million in unnecessary spending while making record investments in public education and taking steps to increase the County’s investment in the trust fund, which supports retiree health care benefits also known as Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB).

The County is currently holding the second annual budget town hall series to hear from residents about their thoughts and concerns on how the county should prioritize future spending. Olszewski will submit his second budget on April 15, 2020.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017