WASHINGTON — The Prince George’s County council has passed a budget that includes more money for public safety positions, as well as increased education funding.
The $3.8 billion budget for the next fiscal year was voted on Thursday morning. More than 60 percent of the Maryland county’s operating budget will go toward education funding.
“Education is our cornerstone of economic development and prosperity,” declared Derrick L. Davis, the county council chair. The council OK’d a $1.97 billion budget for schools.
Theresa Mitchell Dudley, president of the Prince George’s County Educators Association, questioned the council’s priorities, noting that the allocated amount for schools is $90 million short of the funding requested by the county’s board of education.
The reduction in the budget request, Dudley said, could cut programs aimed at reducing student suspensions; improving school discipline training for teachers; and retaining experienced teachers. The educators group hopes to negotiate the cuts with the school board.
Public safety spending will include money for new hires in departments across the county, Davis said.
Davis ticked off a list of what’s funded in the plan: “200 police recruits, 115 firefighters, 25 deputy sheriffs, new positions to process warrants and to manage records,” along with money for corrections, dispatcher and call taker positions.
Like its neighbor Montgomery County, Prince George’s County was able to come up with its spending plan without raising taxes.
But regional comparisons can be misleading, Davis said.
Prince George’s County, with its property tax limits (i.e., the Tax Reform Initiative by Marylanders) has unique budget pressures that limit how and where the county can find revenue.
The new fiscal year starts July 1.
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