July 15, 2018
Politics & Opinion
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A Look Inside This Year’s Budget

Steve Schuh
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June 27, 2017

If there is one word to describe this year’s budget season, it would be “inclusive.”

Our process commenced in February and March when we began meeting with the public to better understand their priorities. At two town halls, our departments met face to face with constituents from across the county to discuss school funding, park improvements and other important community priorities.

From there, our administration went to work to put forward a budget that would advance our goal of making Anne Arundel County the best place to live, work and start a business in Maryland. And in mid-June, the county council concurred with all of our major priorities, ensuring our accelerated climb to the top of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions.

As in prior years, we sought to realize our county’s immense potential by reducing taxes and fees, investing in education and school construction, strengthening public safety, reforming county government and improving the overall quality of life in our county.

Starting with taxes and fees, our budget this year eliminated three unnecessary and burdensome taxes, building on the more than $64 million in tax and fee relief we have already brought to citizens over the last two years. We killed the movie tax (a nearly $1 per person nuisance tax that hits our citizens as they enjoy a night out with the family), the athletic facility tax (a $36 per year tax that adds to the cost of exercise) and the mobile home tax (a $300 per year tax that places an unnecessary burden on residents of mobile home communities.)

With respect to accelerated school construction, our capital budget reflects the largest investment in school construction in county history. The new Crofton High School will be the first all-new high school in the county in 35 years. The budget also included a well-deserved pay increase for our teachers and saved their health benefits fund from insolvency.

To keep our communities safe, we will once again expand the number of public safety personnel by 40 individuals. We set aside construction funds for a new police academy and central booking facility. And we will meet our goal of reducing the public safety fleet vehicle age to three years.

With respect to reforming government operations, we have eliminated the structural deficit and now have a structural surplus. We have also launched the 3-1-1 help line and mobile app that allows citizens to report a lost pet, a pothole, a missed trash collection and many other issues. Using your mobile device, you can take a picture, set a location and receive updates on the response to your issue.

Finally, we will make major investments to improve the quality of life in the county. These efforts include cleaning up our waterways, expanding our network of regional parks and libraries, building out a complete network of bike trails, and developing additional kayak launches and boat ramps. This upcoming year, the county will develop and open two new boat ramps: one in Shadyside and the other in Solley Cove.

For the past two years, many of the above priorities have been ideas on paper or line items in a budget book. But this year, our citizens will start to see concrete results of our progress. We will break ground on central booking and the police academy in the fall. This winter, we will break ground on Crofton High School. Residents will see shovels in the ground across our county as we enter this exciting time in our history.

It was a pleasure to work with all our partners on the county council to finalize a budget that will bring us closer to achieving our goal of making Anne Arundel County the best jurisdiction in Maryland. I am excited for the road that lies ahead. Now let’s get to work!

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