County Executive John R. Leopold Statement on the Passage of the County Operating Budget
Annapolis (May 29, 2008) - County Executive John R. Leopold today released the following statement after the Anne Arundel County Council passed the Fiscal Year 2009 operating budget for the county:
"I am pleased that the Council has kept nearly 99% of my operating budget intact and supported several of my high priority initiatives; these include the STEM facility at the community college, the addition of school resource police officers in middle schools, the critical piece of the county’s Workforce Housing Initiative, non-profit grants program, including two important after school programs - Gems and Jewels at Bates Middle School and the North County Community Teen Program at Brooklyn Park Middle School, the ambulance fee which brings the county in line with other jurisdictions, and keeping my commitment to fund pay raises for teachers," County Executive Leopold said. "We have set a solid course for the county that stresses fiscal constraint in these difficult economic times while funding our priorities."
"But I do have serious concerns about several of the changes the County Council has made since I first introduced the budget. Council’s decision to slash 75% of the funding for the Workforce Development Initiative will negatively affect our ability to keep housing affordable for our police officers, firefighters, teachers, and others who qualify for this vital program. The removal of funding for the county libraries hurts those that use them the most, including our seniors and younger citizens and hurts the local and national reputation for excellence our libraries rightfully enjoy. Finally, by choosing to use one-time funding sources for ongoing spending at our county public schools, this Council potentially endangers the long-term fiscal health of the county and may jeopardize the important Triple-A bond rating which we secured last year for the first time. The short-term fixes made by the Council will have long-term effects on county budgeting and is not the responsible fiscal approach I would have preferred."
"Overall, this is a good budget that recognizes the national economic climate. It maintains the county’s highly valued Triple-A bond rating while not raising property or income taxes on already-strapped residents. Anne Arundel County is poised to move full speed ahead with the BRAC expansion and maintain the quality of life that remains a draw for people from across the state and across the nation."