Baker Warns of ‘Tough Choices’ in Economic Outlook for Prince George’s
"We're down to the bone," the Prince George’s County executive says.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker says that the county must brace itself for a projected $126 million deficit in the coming fiscal budget for 2013.
Baker and officials from county government began a round of community forums this week to engage residents on the proposed $2.5 billion budget.
The budget represents a 2.7 percent decline from the fiscal 2012 budget. Baker told a small crowd at Laurel High School Thursday that a decline in property tax revenues was largely to blame for the deficit of $126 million. Last year, he said, the deficit was only $77 million.
“A lot of that has to do with a decrease in residential property [value],” he said. “It means we have tough choices that have to be made.”
Baker said that the budget remains focused on his goal of funding public safety in the county and other agencies that contribute to the quality of life for residents.
Still, residents and county workers are trying to maintain a slice of the budget.
This week, county council members inquired the Baker administration about raises for county employees who haven’t seen increases in years. Baker said the current economic climate just doesn’t support that.
“It’s a matter of where do we get the dollars,” he said. “We’re down to the bone.”
Residents that support the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System also asked Baker to hold off on making cuts after years of underfunding.
“I sincerely hope protecting the very fine library system is a part of your job,” said Marsha Voigt of the Friends of the Greenbelt Library.
Baker will continue holding budget forums throughout the county in the coming weeks. Citizens interested in testifying at these budget hearings need to call 301-952-4547 to sign up. Citizens who pre-register will be given priority during budget hearings.
Schedule of FY 2013 Public Budget Hearings:
Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 7:00 PM: Harmony Hall, 10701 Livingston Road, Fort Washington
Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 7:00 PM: Prince George’s Community College, Rennie Forum, 301 Largo Road, Largo