Pittman Proposes FY22 Budget

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman delivered his proposed $1.87 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 to the Anne Arundel County Council on April 30. Pittman touted the budget as a plan that strengthens the county’s fiscal health, while investing in public safety, education, and other key needs identified through an “open and transparent” budget process.

In his budget address to the council, Pittman noted that after reduced revenue projections led to belt tightening and a healthy year-end fund balance, the FY22 budget proposal puts the county back on track for key initiatives in a fiscally responsible manner.

“This budget helps us achieve four basic goals: restore trust in government, create economic opportunity for all, implement smart growth policies, and promote health and wellness. These are the principles that guide us, not only as we budget, but also as we govern,” Pittman said. “I want to thank the residents who participated in our seven budget town halls and provided valuable feedback on the budget, and I want to thank our budget team for taking the needs identified by our residents and staff to create a budget that puts us back on track.”

Pittman said the proposed budget accomplishes these goals while keeping the local income tax at the fourth-lowest rate in the state and slightly decreasing the property tax to 93 cents per $100 of assessment, the seventh lowest in the state.

Councilman Nathan Volke, a Republican from Pasadena, took issue with Pittman branding the budget as a cost-cutting measure.

“For the third year in a row, he disregards the property tax cap in Anne Arundel County and is using the resulting tax dollars to increase the budget at an unsustainable pace,” Volke wrote in a Facebook post. “This is the same person who campaigned in 2018 on not raising taxes, then raised taxes the very next budget. He continues to implement a back-door tax increase year-over-year by going over the tax cap that is allowing this funding to occur while claiming he has not raised taxes. Instead of looking at ways to provide any tax relief to you (aka the taxpayer), he just keeps finding more ways to spend our money.”

Councilwoman Sarah Lacey, a Democrat who is chair of the council, said the budget invests in programs and services county residents depend on.

“The county executive's budget supports our educators, gives the health department the COVID resources it needs and funds key programs to support our most vulnerable residents,” she shared in a statement.

Another supporter of the budget is John Hammond, former budget officer and chairman of the board of trustees of both the retirement and pension system and the retiree health benefit trust.

"I am pleased that this year's proposed budget continues to enhance the financial soundness of the county," Hammond said. "Enhancing our annual pension contribution, fully funding the retiree health benefit trust's annual contribution, and providing a significant boost to the county's rainy day fund position Anne Arundel County well for the future. The county's financial reserves are adequate to backstop unexpected economic impacts, and county employees and retirees can count on their future benefits, which they earned during their employment, being there when they need it.”

The county charter provides 45 days for the county council to deliberate on the budget, and a final vote is scheduled for Monday, June 14.

“This budget is fiscally responsible and fair,” Pittman said. “It puts us back on track after a challenging year, and will make Anne Arundel County ‘the best place for all’ - far into the future.”

Full details of the budget, along with text and video of Pittman’s budget address, may be found on the county budget website.

Pittman’s Priorities

Pittman said the FY22 budget reflects fiscally responsible investment across four basic goals:

RESTORE TRUST IN GOVERNMENT

Fiscal responsibility

  • $11 million contribution to the county’s revenue reserve (rainy day) fund

  • Shores up the pension fund by adopting a more conservative rate of return

  • $20 million pre-payment on the retiree benefits fund

  • Achieves debt affordability in the capital budget for the first time in five years

Public safety

  • $874,000 to expand the county’s crisis intervention teams

  • Creates a new Community Services Bureau in the police department

  • Increases the number of paramedics in the training program from 14 to 42

  • $5.4 million investment to replace aging tanker trucks and other fire apparatus

  • Starting four new fire stations (Herald Harbor, Waugh Chapel, Jessup and Arundel)

  • Two new sheriff’s deputies to monitor courtrooms

  • Two new emergency planners for the Office of Emergency Management



CREATING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL

Investing in educators

  • $34.5 million of new funding, which is $15.7 million over the maintenance of effort requirement

  • Fully funds FY22 compensation package

  • $8 million for back steps for all units

  • 15 new positions for behavioral health and special education

  • Six new English language acquisition positions

  • 26 new positions to open Crofton High School

  • Raises pay for substitute teachers

  • Funds new Glen Burnie EEE program

  • Expands summer jobs program

  • Fully funds community college request

  • Boosts community grant program from $700,000 to $1.9 million



IMPLEMENT SMART GROWTH POLICIES

  • Three new positions in the Department of Inspections and Permits to create stormwater strike team to inspect development sites

  • Three new long-range planners in the Office of Planning and Zoning

  • $500,000 startup funding for the Resilience Authority

  • $250,000 to create a new forest conservation mitigation fund

  • $200,000 to begin rebuilding the county’s reforestation fund

  • $1 million in new Greenways funding for land acquisition to meet Plan 2040 conservation goals

  • $312,000 to plan for the county’s electric vehicle charging network



HEALTH AND WELLNESS

  • $1.1 million increase in funding for mental health services

  • $5 million for COVID-19 testing and vaccine efforts

  • $3.3 million renovation and expansion of Arnold Senior Center

  • $2 million investment to increase access to parks for people with disabilities

  • $8 million for new community parks in Odenton and Deale

  • Bringing a county-wide trail network from concept to reality by connecting the Broadneck, WB&A and South Shore trails

  • $2.5 million for a new Jug Bay Environmental Center

  • Approximately $1 million for water access projects

  • Building Severn Intergenerational Center, and $4.2 million of county funding for Brooklyn Park Teen Center

  • Increased veterinary services and new cat cages for Animal Care and Control

In addition to the priority items noted above, the budget includes key investments in county infrastructure:

  • $13.3 million for new Parole Transportation Center

  • $35.7 million for corridor improvements to Route 2 and Route 3

  • $771.1 million for school construction and capital improvements in the six-year plan, including $82.8 million for Old Mill Middle School South, $119.8 million for Old Mill West High School, $73.3 million for CAT North, $155 million for Old Mill High School, and more

  • $34.4 million for five fire stations in six-year plan (Cape St. Claire, Herald Harbor, Waugh Chapel, Jessup and Arundel)

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