News Release, Charles County Government
On Tuesday, April 9, County Administrator Mark Belton and budget staff presented the county’s proposed fiscal 2020 budget of $424,135,000, an increase of 4.8 percent over last year. The proposed budget maintains the current property tax rate, protects core services, supports community priorities, values employees, and incorporates efficiencies to achieve a balanced budget.
The county’s proposed General Fund Operating Budget includes many efficiencies that will help fund the opening of the new Billingsley Elementary School; add school resource officers, paramedics, and public safety dispatchers; invest in infrastructure improvements; and enhance employee compensation. The proposed budget balances many priorities with the limited revenue growth, to ensure fiscally- responsible choices to help maintain the county’s triple-A bond rating.
Staff presented detailed information about additions to the general fund, operating budgets for enterprise funds, and proposed infrastructure investments in the Capital Improvement Program. They also discussed new fees and charges that will be assessed to support program offerings. County Commissioners held a public hearing on the proposed budget to receive public statements and comments. An additional public hearing on the constant yield tax rate is scheduled on Tuesday, April 30.
Open Session Briefings
Representatives from Enterprise Homes presented information about a proposal to build La Plata Gardens apartments, which would help address the shortage of affordable housing units in Charles County. The proposed apartment site would be constructed near the La Plata Park-and-Ride on Washington Avenue. The project would offer 72 apartments that includes a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, a clubhouse, and other amenities. Enterprise Homes is seeking local support through the designation of housing choice vouchers, in order to leverage low-income housing tax credits in financing the project.
Planning and Growth Management staff presented an overview of the Watershed Conservation District (WCD) Zone, which amended zoning maps to rezone properties from various rural, residential, and commercial zones into the WCD. This zoning is intended to align with the 2016 Comprehensive Plan, which included policies that protect the local watersheds and forests and limit urban sprawl. Staff presented maps of the zoning district and discussed general requirements, which limit residential density and impervious surfaces; and specify the types of permitted uses within the WCD.
Planning Director Jason Groth and President of Regional Policy Advisors Gary Hodge presented an update the future of rapid transit in Southern Maryland. They highlighted transit opportunities and related transportation priorities that they have discussed with state transportation leaders and the Charles County delegation during the recent session of the Maryland General Assembly.
General Assembly Legislation Update
Acting County Attorney Danielle Mitchell presented updates on legislative actions that affect Charles County following the conclusion of the 2019 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session on April 8.
- House Bill 389, House Bill 388, House Bill 438: These local bills submitted on behalf of the Charles County Board of License Commissioners all passed.
- House Bill 634: The bill regarding use of public rights-of-way for communications activities was passed, which will help support the implementation of broadband service in rural areas.
- Senate Bill 845: This bill requiring the Maryland Department of Transportation to take steps to complete design, engineering, and the National Environment Policy Act process failed to pass the Senate.
Commissioners approved the following budget requests:
- Fiscal 2019 Budget Amendment Increase #6624: This budget amendment provides a fund balance appropriation of $312,000 for contract services to complete current inspections and close out the yearly contract for Planning and Growth Management.
- Fiscal 2019 Budget Amendment Increase #6642: This budget amendment increases the funding for capital improvements at Chapel Point State Park, based upon anticipated grant funding that will cover 75 percent of expenses.
- Fiscal 2019 Budget Transfer Request #6591: This budget transfer moves $55,000 from the contingency reserve from the Maxwell Hall Improvements Project and the Automation and Tech Project to Chapel Point Park to pay for additional design and construction costs.
- Fiscal 2019 Budget Transfer Request #9589: This budget transfer moves $30,000 in surplus funding from contract personnel and services for the Outdoor Youth Programs to Chapel Point Park to pay for additional design and construction costs.
- Commissioners recognized April as Archaeology Month and presented a proclamation to members of the Charles County Archaeological Society of Maryland and the Charles County Historic Preservation Commission. The theme of this year’s celebration is “The Magic and Mystery of Maryland Archaeology,” which encourages residents to explore the historical use of artifacts to understand how people who used them viewed the world. View photo on Flickr.
- Commissioners recognized April as Donate Life Month and presented a proclamation to Jim Ford, Executive Director of Donate Life Maryland and Milton Mitchell, Washington Regional Transplant Community’s 2018 Heart of Gold recipient. View photo in Flickr.
- Commissioners presented citations to honor Jacqueline “Sunny” Grissett and Andrew Fenlon for being organ donors and giving lifesaving gifts to recipients Vivian Rivera-DeLeon and Frederick Davis. View photo in Flickr.