Prince George's County officials, speaking at a town hall meeting, said the county budget continues to be a challenge and real improvement won't come until the county diversifies its financial base.
District 1 Councilwoman Mary A. Lehman and County Executive Rushern L. Baker spoke at the community meeting at the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center.
More than 100 residents turned out for the event, organized by Lehman to address District 1 constituents, which included residents in Laurel, College Park, Beltsville, Adelphi, and Calverton. Lehman gave residents a presentation of accomplishments made during the legislative session in Upper Marlboro.
Baker told the crowd that Prince George’s County Council overcame a difficult budget and closed a massive deficit.
“It was a very difficult process, we closed a $126 million deficit,” he said. “Our revenues are flat, they are not increasing.”
Cuts included a 5 percent decrease to all county agencies except education and public safety, Baker said. More resources were given to public schools and public safety, as part of Baker’s agenda to make the county safer and more desirable to live in.
Still, Baker continued to stress the need to build the county’s commericial tax base. He said 70 percent of revenues for the county still come from residential real estate, which has only worsened in the last few years due to the housing market.
“We have to diversify,” he said. “And we have to get serious about that.”
Highlights from the meeting included:
- $4.25 million toward a new Laurel Library in the FY 2013 budget
- $2.5 million for renovations to Bock Lodge Middle School in Laurel, including roof repairs.
- $3 million for dredging Laurel Lakes
- $2.2 million for improvements to Montgomery Road in Beltsville including sidewalks and bike lanes.
- $300,000 secured for District 1 non-profits
- $11.9 million to raise bridge along Sunnyside Avenue in Beltsville
- $250,000 toward capital projects in Dinosaur Park in South Laurel
- $75,000 toward District 1 youth programs and senior citizen bus transportation.