La Plata, MD- On Wednesday, April 14, County Administrator Mark Belton presented the county’s proposed fiscal 2022 budget of $449,512,800, an increase of 3.7 percent over last year. The proposed budget maintains the current property tax rate; enhances core services; invests in criminal justice and public safety priorities; provides funding for planning, transportation, and transit services; and funds community public health outreach initiatives.
The proposed budget includes investments to expand access to programs and services, including:
- A six-month pilot program offering free service to riders on VanGO once capacity restrictions are lifted, a first among all Maryland jurisdictions designed to eliminate barriers for residents to travel to essential destinations including work, shopping, and educational facilities.
- A new zoning administrator position to support implementation of updates to the zoning ordinance and sustainability coordinator, which will support climate resiliency initiatives within the Department of Planning and Growth Management.
- Four new, contractual positions for community outreach workers within the Charles County Department of Health.
- A new position and restroom facilities at Mallows Bay to prepare for expanded tourism to the park.
- New investments in criminal justice, including six additional attorneys for the State’s Attorney’s Office, funding for a pre-trial services program, and a coordinator to support the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
“I am excited that the proposed fiscal 2022 budget reflects investment in Commissioner priorities,” said County Administrator Mark Belton. “These priorities positively impact our residents, which include improvements and continued efforts in economic development, institutional governance and policy, environment, education, and quality of life.”
The General Fund budget funds the ongoing costs of government, and includes:
- $3.97 million increase for Charles County Public Schools, which exceeds maintenance of effort funding and increases per pupil spending by 4.2 percent. The total allocation, which also includes funding for the Charles County Public Library and College of Southern Maryland, is $214.5 million, or 47.8 percent, of the General Fund budget.
- $2.89 million increase for the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, to fund two new school resources officers, a systems administrator, and a new mental health liaison position. The total allocation is $99.25 million, or 22.1 percent of the General Fund budget.
- $3.03 million increase for County Government operations. The total allocation is $70.67 million, or 15.7 percent, of the General Fund budget. The additional funding will support the VanGO pilot program, six new positions, the full year impact of a new emergency medical services crew in Waldorf that was approved for fiscal 2021, and a new resident communications software for the County Commissioners.
- $6.19 million increase for other local government functions, including six new positions in the State’s Attorney’s Office, four community outreach staff for the Charles County Department of Health, and funding towards the “Commissioners Care” scholarship program for the College of Southern Maryland. It also includes investments in pre-trial services and support for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
Capital project funding highlights include accelerated design work for a new middle school; continued support of modernizing our county schools; a retrofit of the current La Plata Library once the new La Plata Library is constructed; two new synthetic turf fields; increased funding for drainage improvement projects; funding for phase three of the Western Parkway; and transportation improvements for Route 301 southbound lanes and traffic signals, Pinefield Road/Maryland Route 5 intersection, and the Billingsley/Bensville Road intersection.
“On behalf of the Board of Commissioners, I look forward to continuing to review the proposed fiscal 2022 budget,” said Commissioner President Reuben B. Collins, II, Esq. “During this process, the Board is diligently examining the new and current initiatives, programs, and services to ensure our Charles County community’s needs are met this upcoming year.”
During the meeting, the Department of Fiscal and Administrative Services staff presented detailed information about additions to the general fund, operating budgets for enterprise funds, and proposed infrastructure investments in the capital improvement program. A virtual public hearing is scheduled on Tuesday, April 27 at 6 p.m. to receive comments on the proposed general fund and capital operating budgets and the constant yield tax rate. More information is available at www.CharlesCountyMD.gov.