Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III presented his FY 2015 budget to the County Council March 12.

Baker’s $3.41 billion proposed FY 2015 budget calls for a 4.4 percent spending increase over last year’s budget.

“Our focal point of this budget has always been the residents of this county,” Baker said as he stood at the podium. “It is improving the quality of life for people living in this county.”

This year, Baker and his financial team took a different approach to their budget proposal. They grouped the budget into clusters of various departments. Those clusters were public safety, economic development, health/human services and government services.

Schools and police will be paid from the general fund. Together they make up more than 80 percent of general fund spending. Baker’s proposal calls for an increase of 6.4 percent in police funding and 5 percent more for schools over last year.

Baker announced the budget proposal at a news conference at the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro. Also in attendance were Thomas Himler, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for budget, and Terri Bacote-Charles, who directs the office of management and budget.

Baker said increasing spending for schools “will help to advance the community’s educational system,” Baker said.

The budget calls for funding for ongoing construction of the new Fairmount Heights High School and renovation projects at Eugene Burroughs Middle School and Glenarden Woods Elementary School.

There will also be lifetime learning investments, involving and the Memorial Library System.

Under the proposal, Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) would receive funding for a feasibility study for a southern region campus. The college would also receive funding for various improvement projects, including a new Culinary Arts Center.

For the libraries, the FY 2015 budget contains an allocation of $18.1 million, which will fund, among other things, renovations of certain libraries and the addition of Sunday hours at the New Carrollton, Fairmount Heights, Hillcrest Heights and Spaulding branches. If passed, seven of the 19 branches of the library system will introduce Sunday hours. Last year funding was approved for Sunday hours at the Oxon Hill, South Bowie and Hyattsville branches.

Baker said he decided to fund the weekend hours after his daughter mentioned that she would like to go to the library on Sundays to work.

“I truly believe that with these investments, Prince George’s County will be the place to be,” he said, closing the event.

The County Council must adopt a new spending plan on or before June 1.


Courtney Jacobs

AFRO Staff Writer