On Thursday, the county executive presented his Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal to the County Council. The council will now spend the next month pouring over details of the budget plan.
Over the past two years, I have publicly complimented the county executive’s overall approach to the budget. Baltimore County has been managed better than many other jurisdictions around the United States. The administration deserves credit for not raising tax rates, for consolidating agencies, and for trimming the number of employees to the lowest point since the early 1980s.
The County Council has supported many of these initiatives. Taxpayers expect us to act like grown-ups and solve the county’s problems. They want us to have an open line of communication with the executive branch of government. I believe my colleagues on the County Council are prepared to demonstrate maturity and a sense of fiscal discipline as we move forward.
The budget addresses operating and capital expenses. Operating expenses represent the everyday administration of government, while capital projects are those that improve roads, infrastructure, parks, and schools.
On the capital side, I am very pleased that the budget follows through on earlier commitments to address school overcrowding in the Towson area, which I represent. The York Road corridor includes the most crowded schools in Baltimore County. I have been a strong supporter of additions at Stoneleigh Elementary School and Hampton Elementary School, as well as a new
school at Mays Chapel. I will vigorously defend these projects in the proposed budget.
I am disappointed at the level of investment in schools in Parkville, Carney and Perry Hall. The choice was made not to fund new air conditioning at a single school northeast of Towson. I am also disappointed that certain road construction projects were deferred, but I recognize that these are very expensive. There is a $20 million resurfacing program that is not broken out by community. Hopefully, this will be utilized in a fair and balanced manner.
Over the past 16 months, our office has been able to get a lot done in northeastern Baltimore County: a commercial revitalization district in Perry Hall, funding to start the Northeast Trail, new sidewalks, and approval for a regional dog park, among other items. Districtwide, my rezoning initiative looks at the development potential of more than 480 acres to make sure our neighborhoods are not overwhelmed by future growth. This is especially important given limited funding for schools and new infrastructure.
I will continue to work on these important projects and always look forward to partnering with the administration in the future.